Worcestershire has a rich and diverse countryside which includes areas of international, national, county and local importance:
- Four National Nature Reserves (NNR)
- Two Special Areas of Conservation (SAC's)
- 114 Sites of Scientific Interest (SSSI's)
- 553 Local Sites (LS's)
- 44 Roadside Verge Nature Reserves (RVNR's)
What is a local site?
The system of statutory designations (Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Areas of Conservation etc) covers over one million hectares of land in the UK. However, there are many sites that are of significant local conservation value that fall outside of statutory protection. The Local Sites system enables the listing of these sites and their recognition within local government policy. The Local Sites system covers sites of biological and geological value and sites may be listed for their significance for local ecology (Local Wildlife Sites), geology (Local Geological Sites) or both. The listing of a site within the Local Sites system confers no statutory (legal) protection.
There are currently 553 Local Sites listed in Worcestershire covering a range of habitats. Most sites are privately owned and the Local Sites Partnership endeavours to work with owners to ensure appropriate management of the sites and that their value is maintained.
Despite their importance there is no dedicated funding allocated to the survey, monitoring or management of Local Sites. This lack of resources is an issue that urgently needs to be addressed.
Guidance on identification, selection and managing a Local Sites system has been published by Defra:
Who is involved in the Worcestershire Local Sites Partnership?
The Worcestershire Local Sites Partnership comprises the seven local authorities, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust, Earth Heritage Trust, Worcestershire Biological Records Centre, Natural England, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, Kemerton Conservation Trust, Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group, Country Land and Business Association and the National Farmers Union. The Partnership currently meets twice a year.
What does the Partnership do?
The Partnership is responsible for approving any new sites put forward for listing as county Local Sites and then ensuring the endorsement/adoption of those sites by their own organisations.
The Partnership is responsible for ensuring that reporting on Local Site condition is undertaken on an annual basis to contribute to the monitoring of progress against national and local indicators and Worcestershire State of the Environment targets.