Portmore Lough RSPB reserve, County Down, Northern Ireland

Lough Neagh Basin

Lough Neagh Basin

Legend has it Lough Neagh was formed after the warrior giant, Finn MacCool, scooped up a mound of earth to throw at his Scottish rival. The hole left behind formed the lough.

Lying at the centre of the 5,400-square-kilometre Lough Neagh Basin, it is the largest freshwater lake in the UK and Ireland.

Today, the wildlife-rich wetlands are internationally renowned and important for birds. They support large numbers of wildfowl including whooper swans, pochard, tufted duck, scaup and goldeneye.

The wetland habitats within the basin perform vital functions for humans too, providing food, clean water, flood defence, recreation, cultural heritage and carbon capture and storage. 

In the Lough Neagh Basin Futurescape, we’re working in partnership with many other organisations, conserving and restoring the landscape, to ensure it continues to thrive for people and wildlife.


PDF, 2.53Mb. Date: 5 September 2014

Futurescapes - Lough Neagh Basin

Explore the area

Find out what’s going on near this Futurescape, including places to visit, news and local events, plus how you can work or volunteer for us. 

Rathlin Island RSPB reserve, County Antrim, Northern Ireland
Rathlin Island

Nearby reserves

Reserves and other protected areas are a key part of Futurescapes. They provide core areas for nature to thrive and eventually repopulate the surrounding landscapes. The key RSPB reserves within this Futurescape are:

Portmore Lough

Portmore Lough is a great day out at any time of year. In summer, the hay meadows attract an impressive variety of insects, while in the winter greylag geese, whooper swans and thousands of ducks can be seen from the hide. 

Wildlife Explorers cleaning up Portmore Lough. Northern Ireland, July 1997.
Wildlife Explorers cleaning up Portmore Lough.

Featured projects

We're working to safeguard and improve special places for nature. Each Futurescape contains a range of initiatives in addition to our reserves. The combination of these creates better conditions for wildlife across the countryside.

The Antrim Hills Breeding Wader Programme

The RSPB are advising farmers within agri-environment schemes in the Antrim Hills to manage breeding wader habitat sustainably in an attempt to increase the populations of curlew, lapwing, snipe and redshank.

Halting Environmental Loss Project

HELP is about restoring habitats for birds, improving local biodiversity and increasing opportunities for rural tourism and natural heritage education. The Project operates at a landscape and cross-border scale and involves the RSPB in Northern Ireland and Scotland along with BirdWatch Ireland. Work focuses on helping curlews, choughs, corncrakes, lapwings, redshanks and snipe.

A6 dualling proposals

A proposal to construct a dual carriageway raises concerns for internationally important numbers of whooper swans.

Lough Beg

The Lough Beg area is one of the richest landscapes for wildlife in Northern Ireland. It holds around five per cent of the remaining wet grasslands in Northern Ireland. The wet grassland along the western and southern shores of Lough Beg is home to rare and threatened species, including plants such as pennyroyal and Irish lady’s tresses orchid and birds such as wintering wildfowl and breeding waders. 

The RSPB is working with farmers and landowners to bring wetlands into agri-environment schemes in the Lough Beg area and help them secure support for the restoration and management of this special landscape for the future. We are doing this in partnership with statutory agencies and others. The RSPB’s expertise and resources from the Lough Beg project will be used to help partners to expand the network of wetland habitats across the entire Lough Neagh Basin.

Curlew Numenius arquata, flapping wings after bathing in shallow pool, Geltsdale RSPB reserve, Cumbria

Our partners

Saving special places