Giving Nature a Home in Northern Ireland

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Giving Nature a Home in Northern Ireland

The latest news on how we're Stepping up for Nature in Northern Ireland.
  • Prepare to be WOWed!

    If you’ve never visited the RSPB’s nature reserve right in the heart of bustling Belfast Harbour then prepared to be WOWed!

    After an extensive programme of works, the newly refurbished Window on Wildlife (WOW) reopens very soon and visitors will be able to enjoy improved views of Belfast Lough and the birds and wildlife which call the reserve home.

    As a charity, we're reliant on donations from members and supporters to help run this fantastic site.  To help this we will be introducing a small entry charge at Belfast WOW.  You can easily become a member - just ask the team at Belfast WOW. You can then enjoy free access to Belfast WOW, as well as all the other benefits of that RSPB membership brings.  If you are already an RSPB member and have lost your card, email us or call 01767 693680 to have a replacement card sent to you.

    Just ten minutes from Belfast city centre, and a few minutes from Holywood Exchange and IKEA Belfast, Belfast WOW gives you the chance to see nature in an urban setting at incredibly close quarters.

    Read on to find out more about what you can see at the reserve...

    At this time of year the reserve is bustling with wintering wildfowl like widgeon, teal and shelduck but don’t worry if you’re not an ID expert - trained staff and volunteers are on hand to help you identify what you see.

    As you look out over the reserve towards the Belfast hills, you might even spot two of the reserves most-loved non-avian residents - konik ponies which graze the reserve to help keep it in optimum condition for ground-nesting birds like lapwing.

    As well two new hides, which are constructed from shipping containers to tie in with their industrial surroundings, the reserve now boasts a new sand martin bank and a swift tower.

    These structures will provide cosy hideaways for these threatened species to nest in when they arrive on these shores in spring, having travelled thousands of miles from Africa.

    With lots more indoor space, including a community room and refreshment area, the visitor centre is also now full of interactive interpretation for all the family, including information on the rich history of the harbour and the formation of the reserve back in 1998.

    To be the first to find out when the reserve will be opening, visit our Facebook page, or follow us on Twitter.

    We are very grateful to the European Regional Development Fund administered by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, the Heritage Lottery Fund, Belfast Harbour Commission and the Alpha Programme administered by Groundwork NI for helping us to fund this project.

  • Invitation to quote

    Request for Quotation with fixed budget of £6500 of work to be completed by 31/3/2015




    Peatlands cover 13% of the land area of Northern Ireland but store over 40% of our soil carbon stock.  80% of peatlands in Northern Ireland are degraded to some extent which has implications for wildlife and water quality. Damaged peatlands will be less resilient to the pressures of a changing climate, which will have further implications for the natural resources they provide.


    The RSPB wish to promote the sustainable management of peatland, and other open habitats, on forestry land in Northern Ireland,  and the further restoration of these habitats under forestry, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Forest Service.  


    Key outputs will be maps showing areas which could be prioritised for open ground restoration and identification of a potential project area to be used as a demonstration site. The report will also provide a review of the current Forest Service Open Habitat Restoration Strategy to evaluate the Forest Service’s current strategic approach and make recommendations for its development.


    You are invited to quote in competition with others to provide goods / services as specified below:



    • Use peatland and Forest Service (under agreed licence agreement) datasets to map the extent of forestry on peat
    • Use Forest Service Data available from an extensive ecological survey of forestry land carried out during 2002-2005, which identifies areas of high biodiversity value that are not designated as ASSI or NNR
    • Use priority species data, land ownership data, drinking water catchments and designated site maps to prioritise areas for open ground restoration
    • Use of RSPB NI Futurescapes scoping maps to identify areas for open ground restoration (peatland and wet grassland)
    • Consult with NIEA to get up to date data on peatland condition and extent
    • Consult with NI Water to see which sites fall within drinking water catchments prioritised for investment through the Sustainable Catchment and Management Planning (SCaMP) project
    • Review LIFE peatland restoration projects undertaken in Ireland, and identify relevant learning in relation to site characteristics and restoration potential using different methodologies
    • Identify candidate restoration areas that would be suitable for demonstration purposes


    Write up

    • Produce a project report including a list of candidate peatland sites for tree removal and restoration. The Report should also include a review of the current Forest Service Open Habitat Restoration Strategy, and the effectiveness of restoration of current sites.


    Your quote should be emailed to by 14/01/2015


    If you wish to discuss any aspect of this quote prior to submitting, please email  


    Yours faithfully;

    John Martin, Senior Conservation Officer


    Belvoir Park Forest,

    Belfast, BT8 7QT


    Name of Company















    VAT registration number (if applicable)


    Name of person applying on behalf of the company





    Are you able to meet the specification in full? If so please give details below

    If not please state any differences in goods / service offered

    Specification met?  Yes /No (tick as appropriate)












    Please outline your experience of competing similar projects (use a separate page if necessary)



    Cost for providing goods/services, as outlined in specifications

    £      + VAT



    Added Value

    The RSPB is always open to corporate partnerships that deliver benefit to both your organisation, the RSPB and nature. Working as part of your CSR agenda we can provide opportunities for fundraising, secondments, interns and volunteering, offering your staff both personal and career development opportunities. We also welcome all forms of gifts in kind as valuable contributions to our work to Give Nature a Home.


    Tenderers should provide details of any associated added value features/services/gifts in kind available to the RSPB under the terms of this Tender. (Attach separate document if needed)


    Terms and Conditions

    The basis of the contractual agreement between RSPB and the applicant is detailed in the RSPB Terms and Conditions – please click on this link to download. In applying for this work you are explicitly agreeing to be bound by these Terms and Conditions for the duration of the contract. If you require any alternations to these Terms and Conditions please state your issues below. (Attach separate document if needed)






    On behalf of







    Please note: a name added in an electronic document is functionally equivalent to a signature.

  • Nature under threat

    Blog by RSPB NI Policy Advocacy Officer Colum Delaney.

    RSPB NI believes that nature in Northern Ireland is under threat from deep and broad budget cuts. You can join us in standing up to save nature by taking a couple of minutes to feed into the public consultation to protect our environment.

    The latest budget allocations demonstrate that the natural environment is not seen as a government priority. Disproportionate cuts to the Department of the Environment (DoE) budget (11.1% of its spend) means that ‘front-line’ services and projects which protect and enhance the places and wildlife we hold dear, will be lost.

    A short-sighted approach to funding the natural environment will mean that many of the benefits of a clean thriving environment could be lost. We rely on our environment for so many things, including clean water and air, carbon storage, flood protection and access to green spaces - which helps our physical and mental well-being. We often hear people say that the economy is the priority, but do not recognise that the environment is the economy.

    The proposed cuts to the DoE budget will have a major impact:

    • Important environmental outcomes could be threatened due to cuts to a significant proportion of the DoE workforce.
    • The Natural Heritage Grant to many environmental NGOs will be cut, meaning that many of the projects which directly provide important environmental outcomes will cease.
    • Northern Ireland could leave itself open to large fines if it can no longer effectively meet EU obligations and Directives.


    What would this mean for RSPB?

    • Threatened species become extinct and habitats are lost. RSPB NI manages 2,636 ha of land as nature reserves in Northern Ireland, they support important populations of threatened species such as the chough, curlew, Irish lady’s tresses orchid, Irish whitebeam and red squirrel. Funding for this work is provided by the NIEA through the Natural Heritage Grant Programme and is threatened by cuts.

    • Our out of classroom learning programme ends. Currently the RSPB engages with approximately 15,000 pupils and 400 trainee teachers, giving young people valuable opportunities to learn about the natural world. This programme is now under threat.


    Are there solutions?

    Whilst the situation is perilous, the RSPB does believe that there are some solutions:


    Challenge Fund/Carrier Bag Levy: We believe that there is an onus on the Department to find innovative and creative ways to reallocate the Carrier Bag Levy money (£4.25m) to ensure that it is funding priority work, including the Natural Heritage Fund.

    Remaining balance of budget: We believe that the £1.2m balance of budget remaining should re-directed to fund the programmes in the current grants programme that deliver DoE targets, including meeting EU Directives and thus reducing the risk of infraction, and have the ability to lever in additional funds (creating a multiplier effect).

    Reallocation of Treasury funds: The RSPB understands that following the recent Autumn Statement by George Osborne, an extra £67 million is now available to the NI Executive to spend. We recommend that the Department of the Environment bids for a proportion of this funding, to plug the gap from the loss of the Natural Heritage Fund.


    What you can do

    The draft budget consultations remain open until the 29th December 2014. Make your voice heard by sending a short response to the DoE. Please consider telling the DoE of your concerns for the natural environment, your concerns for what this could mean for the RSPB’s work, and the potential solutions. Please feel free to use some of the points set out above. You can write to the address below or email

    Anthony Carleton

    Director of Finance and Business Planning

    Room 6-15

    Clarence Court

    10-18 Adelaide Street


    BT2 8GB