Designated Sites for Nature Conservation
The types of designated sites for nature conservation that can be found in the UK and Ireland are given the table below.
Table 6: Designated Sites
|Site Type||International Protection||National Protection||Protection Type||Description|
|Ramsar Convention||In E & W, have the same protection as SPAs and SACs by policy.||Statutory||Wetlands of international importance supporting wildfowl and other important species.|
|Special Protection Areas (SPAs)|
|Birds Directive||Regulations derived from the Habitats Directive||Statutory||Sites that support rare, vulnerable or large numbers of regularly occurring migratory bird species. SPAs are part of a network|
of European sites known as Natura 2000.
|Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)|
|Habitats Directive||Regulations derived from the Habitats Directive||Statutory||High-quality conservation sites which make a significant contribution to conserving habitats and species threatened in Europe|
as a whole. Part of the Natura 2000 Network.
|Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)|
(E, W & S)
|None, unless also designated Ramsar, SPA or SAC||Wildlife & Countryside Act and CRoW Act||Statutory||Representative samples of British habitats forming a national series aimed at maintaining the present diversity of wild plants|
and animals in Great Britain.
|Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs)|
|As above||The Environment (Northern Ireland) Order 2002||Statutory||Areas of land that have been assessed as having the highest conservation value in Northern Ireland.|
|Natural Heritage Areas|
|As above||Wildlife Amendment Act (2000)||Statutory||Areas of land which are considered important for the habitats present or which hold species of plants and animals whose habitat|
|National Nature Reserves (NNRs)|
(E, W & S)
|None||National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949; Wildlife & Countryside Act and CRoW Act||Statutory||Areas managed for study or research into flora, fauna, geological or physiographical interest, or for preserving features of|
special interest. Owned or leased by Natural England, bodies approved by them, or managed under agreement with landowners/occupiers.
|Statutory Nature Reserves (Nature Reserves (NR) & National Nature Reserves (NNR))|
|None||The Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985||Statutory||Two tiers of nature reserve; NNRs are the top tier, representing sites of national importance, and NRs, which are of lesser|
importance but are primarily managed for nature conservation.
|Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) (E, W, S)||None||National Parks & Access to the Countryside Act 1949; local planning documents and policies||Statutory||Concentrated in or around urban areas where a policy of using LNRs to promote conservation education has been pioneered. LNRs|
have local as opposed to national importance for nature conservation and the local authority must consult with the relevant
SNCO before designation.
|Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) (NI)||None||The Nature Conservation and Amenity Lands (Northern Ireland) Order 1985; Local planning documents and policies||Statutory||An area of land, designated by a district council, for the purposes of nature conservation or the study of wildlife or both.|
|Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) (E & W)||None||Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009||Statutory||Designated to protect areas of national importance for biodiversity within the marine environment.|
|Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)|
|None||Marine Scotland Act 2009||Statutory||As MCZs in England and Wales|
|Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs)|
|None||Marine Act (Northern Ireland) 2013||Statutory||As MCZs in England and Wales|
|County Wildlife Sites and other local designations|
(E, W, S & NI)
|None||Local planning documents and policies||Non-Statutory||Sites designated by Local Planning Authorities. They can be of significant value for nature conservation, especially in urban|
areas, although they do not have the legal protection afforded by statutory designations described previously. The term
‘Local Sites’ is now most commonly used for such sites.
|Proposed Natural Heritage Areas (pNHA)|
|None||Local planning documents and policies||Non-Statutory||As above but sites which were proposed as NHAs following a review in 1995. However, these sites have not yet received formal|
statutory designation or protection.
E = England, W = Wales, S = Scotland, NI = Northern Ireland, I = Republic of Ireland