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Wildlife designations

It goes without saying that our reserves are wonderful places for wildlife, but what do the designations that cover these sites actually mean?

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSI).

These are sites of national importance for wildlife in the UK. SSSIs cover England, Scotland and Wales, whilst in Northern Ireland they are known as ASSIs. They provide protection for the best examples of the UK’s flora, fauna or geographical features. And are used as a basis for designating sites of international importance, such as Natura 2000 and Ramsar sites.

Natura 2000

Sites of European importance, Natura 2000 is the name given to the Europe-wide network of sites designated under the EC Birds and Habitats directives. Comprising of Special Protection Areas (SPAs), which are designated for their importance to birdlife, and Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) for their importance to other wildlife, they provide protection for sites across Europe.


Relating to wetland sites of international important, these are designated under the Ramsar Convention, held in Iran, 1971. They are designated to protect wetlands of significant importance to wildlife, especially wildfowl.