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Areas of Special Scientific Interest

Digital boundaries for areas on land in Northern Ireland that have been declared of special scientific interest due to plant and animal inhabitants, or geological features.

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. As it is a public agency producing spatial data for environmental applications, many of NIEA's operations fall under the INSPIRE Directive for sharing geographic information.

Digital Datasets

The datasets that can be downloaded here are only digital boundaries - there is no background mapping. The digitising is based on Land & Property Services (LPS) / Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland (OSNI) maps and they can supply vector and raster maps for background mapping for Northern Ireland.

File Formats 

  • This data can be used by Geographical Information Systems (GIS), such as ArcGIS (60-days free trail), the ArcGIS Explorer app (free) and QGIS (free).
  • The datasets are available as zipped shapefiles which is the file format used by ArcView.
  • If you have any problems reading these files, please contact [email protected].
  • Shapefiles can be read by most GIS packages, look in the Help section of your software on how to import them.


These files are based on Irish National Grid (TM75 - EPSG:4300) projections. Some GIS packages allow you to translate between different projections. If you need the data in a different projection, check to see if your GIS package can re-project one of the datasets, or use Grid InQuest converter.

Use of the datasets

Please note that by downloading the digital datasets, you will be accepting the Terms and Conditions.

Data and Resources

Dataset Info

These fields are compatible with DCAT, an RDF vocabulary designed to facilitate interoperability between data catalogs published on the Web.
NI Environment Agency
Modified Date
Release Date
Other (Not Open)
Open Definition
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Area (WKT)
POLYGON ((-8.16926 55.4436, -5.08667 55.4436, -5.08667 53.8702, -8.16926 53.8702, -8.16926 55.4436))
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Northern Ireland