1 November 2012
Natural England has recently published ‘Spotlight on SSSIs’, its first annual statement on the conservation status of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs).
Sites of Special Scientific Interest protect England’s finest wildlife and geological sites – these include bat roosts, ponds and internationally important fossil deposits as well as thousands of hectares of our finest moorland. Natural England is responsible for designating and assessing these sites and we work closely with landowners and site managers to ensure targets to maintain and improve their condition are met. Last year’s Government strategy, ‘Biodiversity 2020’ set out commitments to bring 50 per cent of the total area of SSSIs into ‘favourable condition’ by 2020.
The statement reports that since last April, good progress has been made across the SSSI network. The proportion of sites in favourable condition – the highest condition rating for a SSSI - has increased to 37.4 per cent, an increase of 0.7 per cent from the previous year. This amounts to more than 7,000 hectares or the equivalent of 1/5 of the Norfolk Broads.
Maddy Jago, Director for Landscape and Biodiversity in Natural England said: “If you own or manage an SSSI, you are playing an important role in protecting or enhancing features that make the site special. By improving SSSI habitats you are also helping to improve your local landscape and the many benefits and basic services it provides for people – like clean water, storing carbon, and providing healthy recreation areas. I hope that over the coming year we will be able to report continued progress towards meeting the goals for SSSIs that Government has set out in its Biodiversity 2020 strategy.”
Spotlight on SSSIs also lists the largest areas improved to favourable condition in the last year and includes some informative case studies on the Ministry of defence-owned Salisbury Plain SSSI and a farmer-managed SSSI on Exmoor.
This annual statement will be followed up by 6 monthly e-newsletters that will update SSSI owners and occupiers on the Biodiversity 2020 targets, offer advice and tips on looking after their site and highlight some interesting work that is happening across the country.
A copy of 'Spotlight on SSSIs' can be downloaded from our publications catalogue, or for general enquiries please call 0845 600 3078.