Natural England - ‘Spotlight on SSSIs’ issue 3 published

‘Spotlight on SSSIs’ issue 3 published

17 December 2013

Spotlight on SSSIs - the newsletter from Natural England that highlights the achievements of landowners, managers and our partners in improving the condition of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) - has been published today.

Bluebell wood © Peter Roworth / Natural England

Bluebell wood © Natural England

As well as reporting on the progress that is being made in improving the condition of the SSSI network, our annual newsletter gives a flavour of some of the amazing work that is taking place on SSSIs across the country.

In this issueexternal link we have an interview with Simon Bateman, site manager for the Woodland Trust, who tells us why he decided to work in conservation, what his working day is like and how he manages two of his sites.

Hadleigh Farm and Country Park was the venue for the 2012 Olympic mountain bike events last year. Part of the site is notified as a SSSI for its plants, invertebrates and overwintering wildfowl. We find out about the careful planning and close  partnership working that has created a lasting legacy for the community whilst delivering improved environmental outcomes for the site.

There are 4,128 SSSIs in England, covering around 8 per cent of the country, many of which cover the most loved, and often visited, parts of England.  The aim for every site is to achieve an assessment of favourable condition, which means that the specific features for which a site is notified have reached nationally recognised goals for habitat quality or species abundance.  Each SSSI is unique and a SSSI can be notified for its important natural habitat, distinctive species of wildlife, or for an exceptional geological formation.

This latest edition of Spotlight on SSSIs reports that the proportion of sites assessed to be in favourable condition is 37.38 per cent and the area in recovering condition has increased to 58.84 per cent. By 2020, the Government’s objective is to have half of the total area of SSSIs in a favourable condition and at least 45 per cent of the remaining area of SSSIs be in a state of recovery, with the expectation that they will reach favourable condition once management plans have taken effect.

Maddy Jago, Natural England’s Director for Landscape and Biodiversity, said: “I would like to thank the owners of SSSIs for all their hard work and enthusiasm and for the invaluable contribution that they make to the management of these sites.  If you own or manage an SSSI then you are part of a vital, but often underappreciated, local network of people who are playing an important role in protecting or enhancing each uniquely special site.

“By improving SSSI habitats site managers are also helping to improve the landscape and improving basic services for local people – like clean water, carbon storage, and in some cases, high quality recreation areas.”