Geography of Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is at its nearest point only 21km (13 miles) from Scotland. It has 488-km (303-mile) border in the south and vest with the Irish Republic. At its centre lies Lough Neagh, Britain’s largest freshwater lake (381sq km, 147sq miles) . Many of the principal towns lie in valleys leading from the Lough, including the capital, Belfast, which stands at the mouth of the river Lagan. The Mourne Mountains, rising sharply in the south-east, include Slieve Donard, Northern Ireland’s highest peak (852 m, 2,796 ft) .
Environment of Scotland
Scotland’s countryside contains rich variety of wildlife, with some species not found elsewhere in Britain. There are 71 national nature reserves and over 1,300 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Four regional parks and 40 national scenic areas have been designated, covering 13 per cent of the land surface. Four of the 11 forest parks in Great Britain are in Scotland, and a fifth spans the border between Scotland and England.
Environment of Wales
There are extensive areas of picturesque hill, lake and mountain country, and the countryside supports a variety of plants and wildlife. There are three National Parks (Snowdonia, the Brecon Becons and the Pembrokeshire Coast) , five Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and two national trails as well as 31 country parks and large stretches of heritage coast. There are about 50 National Nature Reserves and over 800 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Nearly all of the rivers and canals are classified as having water of good or fair quality, and a significant improvement has been achieved in the quality of bathing waters.
Geographical Position of Great Britain
The United Kingdom is situated on the British Isles. The British Isles consist of two large islands, Great Britain and Ireland, and a great number of small islands. Their total area is over 244,000 sq. km.
The British Isles are separated from the European continent by the North Sea and the English Channel. The western coast of Great Britain is washed by the Atlantic Ocean and the Irish Sea.
Northern Ireland occupies one third of the island of Ireland. It borders on the Irish Republic in the south. The island of Great Britain consists of three main parts: England (the southern and middle part of the island) , Wales (a mountainous peninsula in the west) and Scotland (the northern part of the island) .
There are no high mountains in Great Britain. In the north the Cheviots (the Cheviot Hills) separate England almost along its middle, the Cambrian Mountains occupy the greater part of Wales and the Highlands of Scotland are the tallest of the British mountains. Ben Nevis, the tallest peak of the Highlands, is only 1,343 m high.
There is very little country except in the region known as East Anglia.
Most of the rivers flow into the North Sea. The Thames is the deepest and the longest of the British rivers; it is over 300 km long. Some of the British greatest ports are situated in the estuaries of the Thames, Mersey, Tyne, Clyde and Bristol Avon.
Great Britain is not very rich in mineral resources; it has some deposits of coal, and iron ore and vast deposits of oil and gas that were discovered in the North Sea. The warm currents in the Atlantic Ocean influence the climate of Great Britain.
Britain forms the greater part of the British Isles, which lie off the north-west coast of mainland Europe. Its weather is changeable, but there are few extremes of temperature. Britain is major world producer of oil, natural gas and coal. Since 1980 it has been self-sufficient in energy in net terms.
Woodland covers nearly 2-4 hectares in Britain: about 13 per cent of Scotland, 12 per cent of Wales, 73 per cent of England, and 52 per cent of Northern Ireland. British woodlands meet 12 per cent of the country’s consumption of wood and wood products.
Over three-quarters of Britain’s varied landscape are used for agriculture.
Responsibility for pollution control rests with local and central government. Integrated pollution control restricts emissions to air, land and water from the most harmful processes. Recycling of waste will be a duty of local government.
The National Rivers Authority protects inland waters in England and Wales. In Scotland the river purification authorities are responsible for water pollution control.
Total emissions of smoke in the air have fallen by over 85 per cent since 1960. Sulphur dioxide emissions have fallen by about 40 per cent since 1970. Britain has adopted a phased programme of reductions in sulphur dioxide emissions form existing large combustion plants of up to 60 per cent by 2003. It has also agreed to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 30 per cent by 1998. Over 95 per cent of petrol stations in Britain stock unleaded petrol. Strict controls have reduced carbon monoxide, hydrocarbon and nitrogen oxide emissions.
The Government is committed to the elimination of chlorofluorocarbons, which damage the ozone layer. They also contribute to the greenhouse effect, which leads to global warming and rise in sea levels.
Britain stresses the need for improvement in understanding the science of climate change.
There are nearly 500,000 protected buildings, and 7,000 conservation areas of architectural or historical interest, in Britain. The Government supports the work of the voluntary sector in preserving the national heritage. Green belts are where land should be left open and free from urban sprawl. The Government attaches great importance to their protection. National parks cover 9 per cent of the total land area of England and Wales. Some 38 areas of outstanding natural beauty have been designed - 13 per cent of the same land area. Three regional parks and 40 national scenic areas cover 13 per cent of Scotland. Care is taken to control development on parts of the coastline.