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30 July 2014
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Coasts Mountains, Lakes & Rivers Settlement Land Use & Economic Activity Ecosystems
Mourne Mountains Antrim Hills Sperrin Mountains Rivers, Upper Course Rivers, MIddle & Lower Course Meanders Lakes
The Sperrins clipWatch Video Map

Script

Key Points

The third and oldest highland area of Northern Ireland is the Sperrin Mountains which run across the counties of Tyrone and Londonderry. These mountains are less steep and more rounded than the Mournes or the Antrim hills because they have been exposed to a longer period of erosion- up to 500 million years.

Leisure and Tourism is less developed here and farming is still the main economic activity. Like the other highland areas, farming and settlement is confined to the lower slopes and river valleys. On the barren bog-covered summits, the climate is cold and wet, and the soil is thin and poor. Grass is the only crop that will grow, providing food for grazing sheep in the summer months.

The Sperrins are made up of a mixture of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

Sedimentary rocks are “Layered rocks” which are formed from compressed layers of other rocks or the remains of living creatures. Limestone and sandstone are examples of sedimentary rock.

Metamorphic rocks are “Changed rocks”, they started off as sedimentary rocks but were changed by volcanic activity and/or pressure. These include quartzite and schist. The rocks in the Sperrins are mainly schist, with smaller areas of limestone, sandstone and quartzite around the edges and in some of the river valleys.

Forestry is common in and around the Sperrins. The trees are coniferous (cone bearing) like spruce, pine, larch and fir. These are better able to withstand the poorer climate and more acid soils which are common in mountain areas. They are harvested like any other crop, the only difference being that it takes about 30 years before they are ready to cut down. The trees are processed and used locally - usually as fence posts, picnic tables or benches. Northern Ireland only produces about 10% of the timber it needs, the rest is imported.

The Sperrin Mountains are more rounded than the Mournes or the Antrim hills because they have been exposed to a longer period of erosion.

Farming and settlement is mostly confined to the lower slopes and river valleys. On the summits, sheep grazing is the main economic activity.

The Sperrins are made up of a mixture of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

Forestry is common because coniferous trees are better able to withstand the poor climate and acid soils of the mountains.



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