Child jumping

People and nature in Northern Ireland

It’s important to bring people closer to nature in Northern Ireland so they value it more, feel a sense of ownership and are inspired to help protect it.

Our history

The Ulster Society for the Protection of Birds was formed in 1921. The Society focused its efforts on bird protection rather than habitat restoration, installing perches for tired migrating birds at Maidens Lighthouse in Larne, and appointing watchers on Rathlin Island and Strangford Lough to protect seabirds from poachers. 

In 1966, the Ulster Society was amalgamated with the RSPB in an attempt to get more support for bird protection and RSPB Northern Ireland was born. Frank Hamilton was appointed as the first Regional Officer, and operated from an office in Queen’s University with just one other member of staff. We’ve come a long way since then!

At the moment, our team stands at around 50 members of staff and we currently have around 16,000 members in Northern Ireland. These members give us our mandate and support us financially and in many other ways. Without their generosity and commitment, our work would be impossible.

Rathlin Island RSPB reserve, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Volunteering

Volunteers form a huge part of our ‘One Team for Nature’ and without them, many of our projects would not be possible. 

We have opportunities for people of all ages to get involved in variety of important roles in conservation, education, administration, visitor engagement and much more! We currently have 280 registered volunteers, helping us to give nature a home.

It’s also possible to stay on our reserves at Portmore Lough and Rathlin Island while you volunteer.

Come and join in!

We have seven local groups in Northern Ireland which are run by committed volunteers, and are made up of wildlife enthusiasts ranging from beginners to experts.

The monthly meetings are open to everyone and include a programme of entertaining and informative talks, and regular field trips are also arranged through the year. Local Groups are an excellent way of meeting new, like minded people, and everyone no matter what your knowledge of wildlife, will be welcome.

Find your nearest local group

We run around 40 events throughout the year, both on and off our reserves. These range from family camping events to dawn choruses and wildlife photography. Find out what’s on and come to say hello – we look forward to meeting you!