Areas of Special Scientific Interest
Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI) are areas of land that have been identified by scientific survey as being of the highest degree of conservation value. They have a well-defined boundary and by and large remain in private ownership. The underlying philosophy is to achieve conservation by co-operation and in this, the part played by landowners is fully recognised and appreciated.
The law relating to ASSIs is contained in the Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002. NIEA must, as required by the law laid down in the Order, declare land as ASSIs if it is of special scientific interest because of the flora or fauna that is found on it, or because of geological features.
NB. Although ASSIs on the map are indicated by dots, some of these, in particular rivers and loughs, will cover quite an extensive geographical area, examples would be Lough Neagh which takes in the whole expanse of the lough and it's shoreline and the River Foyle and it's tributaries which stretches from Magheramason to Killeter Forest.
When an ASSI is declared, owners and occupiers receive a list of notifiable operations. These are activities which the Department considers might harm the nature conservation interest of the site. Should a landowner wish to carry out a notifiable operation and the Department judges it to be incompatible with the conservation interest, the Department may offer to enter into a management agreement, with the possibility of payments on conclusion of the negotiations.
Download A Forward Programme for the Declaration of Areas of Special Scientific Interest in Northern Ireland (.PDF 146Kb)
(Please note that this document was written in March 2003 and as such some references contained in it are no longer relevant or up to date.)