Local County Wildlife Sites
County Wildlife Sites are areas of land important for their wildlife. They include valuable habitats such as ancient woodland, species-rich grasslands, wetlands, roadside verges and hedgerows. The habitats and species that live there flourish because of past management practices and many sites provide a refuge for rare or threatened plants and animals.
The Wildlife Sites Panel is responsible for overseeing the Local Sites system in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Environmental Records Centre is responsible for making information and data available on local sites accessible to all those who need to use it. The success of the local site system largely depends on the support of the organisations involved (Local Authorities, Natural England, The Environment Agency and the Wildlife Trust) and the involvement of land owners and managers who influence the protection and enhancement of sites.
For further information please contact our wildlife officer
County wildlife site handbook
A handbook and leaflet describing the operation of the County Wildlife Site system (CWS) in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough is available which contains more information on CWS. Locally a CWS system has been in existence for some years through partnership working between Peterborough City Council and the Cambridgeshire Wildlife Trust. Guidance on these systems, known generically as Local Sites Systems, was published by Defra in April 2006.
What are county wildlife sites?
County Wildlife Site is a non-statutory designation used to identify high quality wildlife habitats in a county context. Together with statutory sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), County Wildlife Sites form an important part of the wildlife resource in the wider countryside helping to link and buffer sites.
Why are they important?
Habitats of special importance for wildlife such as species rich grassland, rivers, wetlands and ancient woods account for approximately 7% of the county area. Sympathetic management by farmers and landowners helps to preserve these special habitats and the species associated with them for present and future generations to enjoy.
How are county wildlife sites selected?
Survey data is gathered and sites are selected by assessing their wildlife importance in a county context against carefully constructed selection criteria. Those meeting the thresholds contained within the guidelines are then selected for designation. The County Wildlife Site system is intended to be flexible, so that newly discovered sites that meet the selection guidelines can be added, whilst those that are known to have deteriorated can be removed.
How many county wildlife sites are there?
There are 461 CWS across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, with 106 CWS plus 6 Local Geological Sites in Peterborough.
Protection of county wildlife sites
People need to be aware of where these sites are and why they are important. Given information about where sites are and why they are important, owners, planners and conservation bodies can work together to make informed decisions about the future of these sites. Local Authorities have a responsibility as part of their planning function to take account of sites of substantial nature conservation value and to consider them alongside other material planning considerations. The location of County Wildlife Sites will be included in Local Plans and Development Documents.
Implications for landowners
Owning a County Wildlife Site does not mean that there will be open public access to your land. Existing public rights of way remain unaffected and no rights of access are created. The majority of ordinary land management and agricultural operations remain unaffected. Identification of a County Wildlife Site does not give anyone other than the landowner or manager control over land management. However, following recent new regulations, some operations on County Wildlife Sites may require an Environmental Impact Assessment. Further information on the Regulations, or for an application form can be obtained from Defra, call the freephone EIA helpline on 0800 028 2140 or email firstname.lastname@example.org If your proposal involves afforestation, deforestation, forest roads or forest quarries further information and advice is available from the East of England Forestry Commission Conservancy Office based at Santon Downham, Suffolk Tel: (01842) 815544 or email email@example.com. The recognition of a County Wildlife Site could assist you in attracting grant aid money such as environmental stewardship and woodland grants. Sympathetic management is encouraged and there are people able to assist you by providing further information and advice.
Please note that many of these sites are not publicly accessible without the landowners permission. For detailed survey information on a CWS please contact the Environmental Records Centre Tel (01954) 713570. If you would like some advice on management please contact the Wildlife Sites Officer at the local Wildlife Trust Tel (01954) 713500.