Aerial view of Lower Lough Erne Islands, Northern Ireland

Lough Erne Basin

Lough Erne Basin

Rising in Monaghan, the River Erne travels northwest, flowing through Upper and Lower Lough Erne in Fermanagh before draining into Donegal Bay.  The Loughs, and their catchments, sustain a wide array of natural habitats and wildlife.

This includes rare plants, like the fen violet and Irish lady’s tresses orchid; vulnerable breeding populations of wading birds such as curlew, golden plover, lapwing, and redshank; as well as iconic mammals like otters and red squirrels.

The Lough Erne Basin itself spans an area of 2,022 square kilometres.

This Futurescape provides food, clean water, flood defence, recreation, cultural heritage and carbon capture and storage. Farmers, businesses, local communities and multiple organisations are working in partnership to conserve this landscape, ensuring it continues to thrive for people and wildlife.


PDF, 2.41Mb. Date: 5 September 2014

Futurescapes - Lough Erne 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. 

Lower Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh, views from Boa Island showing Lusty Beg, Lusty More and Cruninish Islands (all RSPB)  2004
Lower Lough Erne

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:


Aghatirourke is part of the Cuilcagh Mountain World Geopark in County Fermanagh. It's an area of extensive upland blanket bog habitat bordered by limestone grassland to the north and montane heath on the summit to the south. 

Lower Lough Erne Islands

Lough Erne is one of the largest freshwater lakes in the UK. Take a leisurely stroll around the forest trails and look across to some of the 40 islands which make up most of the reserve, two of which you can visit by boat.

Aghatirourke RSPB reserve, Cuilcagh Mtn, Co, Fermanagh, September 2002

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.

Halting Environmental Loss Project

HELP is about restoring habitats for birds, improving 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. 

Curlew in Geltsdale RSPB Reserve

Our partners

Saving special places