for nature conservation
The various International, European, National and Local site
designations can be quite confusing especially as some sites have
an overlap of designation.
The designations found in South Somerset are
Ramsar sites are wetlands of international
importance, designated under the Ramsar Convention, an
international agreement signed in Ramsar, Iran in 1971
Ramsar sites are European sites with protection as set out in
the Conservation of Habitats and Species Regulations 2010. The
Somerset Levels and Moors is a Ramsar Site.
The vast majority of Ramsar sites in England, as is the case
with the Levels and Moors, are also classified as a Special
Protection Areas (SPA) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest
Special Protection Area (SPA)
SPAs are areas which have been identified as being of national
and international importance for breeding, feeding, wintering or
the migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds found within
Europe. They are European designated sites classified under the
'Birds Directive 1979' which provide enhanced protection given by
SSSI status. The Somerset Levels and Moors is a SPA.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
SSSIs are the country's best wildlife and geological sites. They
include some of the most spectacular and beautiful habitats. There
are over 4000 SSSIs in England covering 7% of the country's land
area. More than 70% of these sites also have further wildlife
There are 39 SSSIs located in South Somerset
National Nature Reserves (NNR)
NNRs are the finest SSSI sites in England for wildlife and
geology. There are currently 222 NNRs in England, three of them
being located in South Somerset.
Hardington Moor NNR,
Barrington Hill NNR
Part of the Somerset Levels and Moors NNR
Natural England is the body empowered to declare NNRs in
England, the reserves being a selection of the very best parts of
England's SSSIs. It is this underlying designation which gives NNRs
their strong legal protection.
Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) - formerly known as County
Wildlife sites (CWS)
These are local important areas for wildlife. There are nearly
600 Local Wildlife Sites in South Somerset. There are no legal or
statutory implications for these sites and their conservation
relies entirely on sympathetic management by their owners,
sometimes under DEFRA Stewardship schemes. South Somerset
recognises the importance of LWS in the District and takes account
of the wildlife importance of such sites when considering planning
applications. The majority of these sites are privately owned with
no public access.
The Local Sites Partnership designates these sites and promotes
their positive management.
Sites in South Somerset are listed at: /media/15494/a02_1.pdf
Local Nature Reserves (LNR)
Local Nature Reserve is a statutory designation made under the
National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949 and amended
by the NERC Act 2006.
LNRs are for both people and wildlife. They are sites of
importance for wildlife or geology which offer people opportunities
to enjoy or study nature.
All local authorities have powers to acquire, declare and manage
There are more than 1400 LNRs in England and 4 in South
Somerset. The reserves are
Moldrams Ground near Wincanton
Eastfield, High Ham near Langport
Bincombe Beeches, Crewkerne
In addition to the LNRs the Council owns and manages Yeovil
For more information consult our the Council's Countryside
Strategic Nature Areas (SNA)
Strategic Nature Areas are areas identified in South West Nature
Map as being the best areas in the South West to conserve, create,
and connect wildlife habitats at a landscape scale.
The Council's LBAP focuses on Lowland heath SNA, Calcareous and
Neutral Grassland SNA, Woodland SNA and Purple Moor Grass SNA.
For a full list of sites consult www.naturalengland.org.uk