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Strangford and Lecale Newsletter Summer 2022

Welcome to the second edition of the Strangford and Lecale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Newsletter. Here we bring you the highlights from our project work, including a glimpse of some of the areas in which we work with our partners, and things to look out for in 2022/23!

Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership Workshop Report May 22

AONB stakeholders have been taking part in workshops to develop new management action plans for Strangford and Lecale AONB 2023 -26


See report for outcomes of first workshop in May 22.

Share the Shore - Dog Walking Alternative Sites


In 2015/16 SLLP carried out a study to monitor effects of dog walking on bird population in Strangford Lough. “The Impact of Dog walking and Human Activity on over-wintering bird populations in Greyabbey Bay”

From this study it was concluded that a disturbance event effecting over-wintering birds occurs approximately once every hour on Greyabbey Bay. The data shows that the majority of this disruption is caused by dogs being walked off lead and that excluding unknown and natural causes, off lead dogs cause the most severe response from the birds. To mitigate for this disturbance a “Share the Shore” postcard was produced and distributed in the Greyabbey community and other communities at the north end of Strangford Lough. In 2018 6no. “Share the Shore” information panels were produced and located at “hotspots” for bird disturbance around Strangford and Lecale AONB. They are located in council owned land at Kircubbin, Cunningburn, Floodgates carpark Newtownards, Island Hill, Whiterock and Killough.

As part of this project, we have now created an interactive map, providing those wishing to enjoy walking their dogs with details of alternative sites away from the shore at this time of year (September to March). Included are some options for off-leash dog exercising. Clicking on the dog icon on the map reveals a pop-up of the relevant information.




Strangford and Lecale AONB Newsletter Autumn 2020

Welcome to the first edition of the Strangford and Lecale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Newsletter. Here we will bring you the highlights from recent projects, including a glimpse at some of the areas in which we work with our partners, and things to look out for in 2020/21!

Strangford Heritage trail map

Strangford's history of trade, commerce and smuggling is written in the buildings along this heritage trail, approx. one hour long.

Share the Shore

In response to the findings of  "A report on the impact of recreational sprot and activities on overwintering birds", a postcard and a series of 6 interpretive panels were produced to help raise awareness of, specifically, dog disturbance on these bird populations.

Sport NI Report Skiffie Worlds 2016

Report on Skiffie Worlds that took place in the Quoile estuary July 2016


Strangford Lough is not a static system, but is subject to natural change both in terms of its biological communities and its geomorphology.  The conservation objectives are designed to accommodate the dynamic nature of the site.  In overall terms, Strangford Lough was deemed to be in Favourable Condition at the time of its designation.  This does not rule out setting targets that will enhance the condition of any feature or sub-feature.


The establishment of kelp grids for seaweed cultivation in the 18th Century marks the first aquaculture activity in Strangford Lough. Seaweed cultivation and harvesting for soda production probably continued for over 100 years until its demise in the 1830s when it became uneconomic (McErlean 2002). This period probably represents the greatest impact on the intertidal areas of the Lough in recorded history. Experimental studies into the growth of the oysters Crassostrea gigas and Ostrea edulis by Parsons (1974) and Briggs (1978) demonstrated the suitability of Strangford Lough for oyster culture and stimulated its development in the Lough. Consequently, aquaculture in the Lough, which started in the 1970s with a few producers, focused initially on oysters (Figure 1). For example, Cuan Oysters, which was established in 1974, played an important role in the development of aquaculture in the UK by pioneering culture methods for very small hatchery-reared oyster seed. Cuan Oysters is currently the major producer of oysters in Strangford Lough, and one of the main producers in the UK, handling over 400 tonnes of oysters per annum (http://www.cuanoysters.com/seafood/index.html). Aquaculture in Strangford Lough continues to focus entirely on bivalves but now includes mussels and scallops as well as Pacific and native oysters. This section reviews the development of aquaculture since the 1970s in the context of recent ecological changes and the Shellfish Aquaculture

Strangford Lough SAC / SPA Management Scheme, Environment and Heritage Service, May 2001

People have inhabited the shores of Strangford Lough and used its resources for 9000 years. Today local people continue to play a very important role in shaping and managing the area. The past 20 years, however, have witnessed some dramatic changes in terms of the area’s socio-economic development. This is partly because Strangford Lough, one of the most important environmental sites in Europe, is not a remote wilderness but lies within an hour’s drive of Belfast city centre.

Strangford Lough & Lecale by Bob Brown

This booklet has been produced in association with the Strangford Lough and Lecale Partnership (SLLP) and its Turn O' the Tide programme, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund. It is part of work to help connect people with their heritage and to develop a management strategy for the Strangford and Lecale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Dr. Bob Brown is a marine biologist and former Director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Northern Ireland. He lives in Lecale and has drawn on many sources in writing this booklet, not least his own intimate knowledge of the area. Copies of this book can be collected form the SLLP office in Portaferry.

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