Chapter 7 Other guidance and reports

Status of English Local Wildlife Site Systems (2011)


Status of English Local Wildlife Site Systems (2011)


In 2011, the Wildlife Trusts reported on their review of the local wildlife sites. They found that:

  • There are at least 41,174 Local Wildlife Sites throughout England, totalling at least 711,201 hectares
  • Ninety percent of the partnerships responsible for selecting Local Wildlife Sites have updated their selection procedure since Defra published guidance in 2006 and the same number have a de-selection procedure, for use when the wildlife interest of the site diminishes
  • Despite Defra guidance that the term ‘Local Wildlife Site’ should be used, different local authorities still used at least 13 different terms to describe non-statutory wildlife sites (although this is down from 23 in 2008)
  • Only 16% of the partnerships believed that local plan policies effectively protected Local Sites
  • In 2010, at least 173 Local Wildlife Sites were lost or damaged by development (so about 0.4% of the total in one year), with around 24 of these lost to development altogether
  • A more widespread threat is that posed by lack of management or inappropriate management of Local Wildlife sites, leading to a deterioration in wildlife value
  • There is considerable concern amongst the partnerships that the scrapping of the National Indicator 197: Improved Local Biodiversity, along with the rest of the National Indicators, would lead to a negative effect on the Local Wildlife Site system, for example, by reduced funding
  • Despite the scrapping of NI197, local authorities are still required to report to central government on the proportion of Local Wildlife Sites in positive management as part of the ‘single data list’ which sets out the current reporting requirements for local authorities to central government. However, it is no longer linked to performance targets and funding

The adoption of standard selection criteria, the reduction in the number of names given to Local Wildlife Sites and the adoption of de-selection procedures are all to be welcomed. There does, however, seem to be a slow attrition of Local Wildlife Sites through development and a more widespread decline in their quality through lack of management, which may be compounded by changes of government policy and the mechanisms by which local authorities are funded.

Chapter 7 Other guidance and reports
Thomson Handbook Chapter 7 Other guidance and reports Status of English Local Wildlife Site Systems (201...