Biodiversity can be found virtually everywhere, but there are particular features in our towns and countryside that are especially important for wildlife, forming habitats for particular plants and animals, or acting as ‘stepping stones’ or ‘corridors’, allowing species to disperse between sites. These important features include hedgerows, woods and copses, grasslands, ponds, streams and ditches. The importance of many of these habitats is recognised in the Nottinghamshire Local Biodiversity Action Plan, which can be seen at website: www.nottsbag.org.uk.
The most important sites in Nottinghamshire for the conservation of biodiversity are legally protected, whilst those of more local importance are offered some protection through the planning system. Similarly, a number of rare and endangered species that occur in the county are protected in law.
Many of our native species of plants and animals receive legal protection, due to their rarity, sensitivity, or vulnerability. Further information about the protection offered to wildlife through legislation, and full lists of the species concerned (along with precise details of their protection) can be found at on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website: www.jncc.gov.uk.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
SSSIs are nationally important sites that are legally protected and represent the finest sites for wildlife and natural features in Britain, supporting many characteristic, rare and endangered species and habitats. The majority of SSSIs are privately owned, but they can be owned by local authorities and voluntary organisations. There are 68 SSSIs wholly or partly in Nottinghamshire, covering areas of woodland, heathland, grassland, wetland and quarry. However, just 1.6 percent of the area of Nottinghamshire is designated as SSSI, comparing poorly with a regional average of 4.5 percent, and a national average of 7.5 percent. Further details of these SSSIs, including their reasons for designation and their condition status, can be found on Natural England’s website: www.naturalengland.org.uk. You can also find out where your nearest SSSI is by going onto the Nature on the Map website: www.natureonthemap.org.uk.
We are responsible for the management of the Teversal-Pleasley Railway SSSI, as well as parts of a further three SSSIs – the road verge element of the Gamston and Eaton Woods and Roadside Verges SSSI, the Sherwood Forest Country Park and the Ollerton Assart’s sections of the Birklands and Bilhaugh SSSI.
National Nature Reserves (NNRs)
All NNRs are also Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and are the best examples of a particular habitat type. As such, they are carefully managed on behalf of the nation. They are either owned or controlled by Natural England (website: www.naturalengland.org.uk) or held by approved bodies such as Wildlife Trusts or Local Authorities. Nottinghamshire has one NNR, Sherwood Forest, which was designated in 2002 and extended in 2007 to include Budby South Forest, taking the total site area up to 423.5 hectares.
We manage the majority of the southern part of Sherwood Forest NNR, and all our work here follows an agreed management plan. This part of the site has an incredible concentration of ancient oak trees, and it is also one of the top five sites nationally for the dead-wood (saproxylic) invertebrate community it supports. This includes Dendrochernes cyrneus, a false scorpion which is found at just three other sites in the UK (and is rare throughout Europe), and Corticeus unicolor, a darkling beetle which in the UK is found only in Nottinghamshire.
Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)
Sherwood Forest is also recognised as being of international importance for its wildlife, being desiganted under European legislation as Birklands and Bilhaugh SAC. The European habitat type to which the site corresponds is ‘Old acidophilous oak woods with Quercus robur on sandy plains’, and the site is the most northerly of just four localities selected in the UK to represent this particular habitat type. Further details of the SAC can be found on the Joint Nature Conservancy Council (JNCC) website: www.jncc.gov.uk.
Local Nature Reserves (LNRs)
Local Nature Reserves are places for both people and wildlife, with wildlife or geological features that are of special interest locally, and offer people opportunities to study or learn about nature, or simply to enjoy it. Natural England recommends that there should be 1ha of LNR per 1000 head of population. In Nottinghamshire, we are currently approximately halfway towards achieving this target. As of January 2008, there were 31 LNRs in Nottinghamshire, with a further eight in Nottingham City.
Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINCs)
SINCs are sites that have been identified as being of at least county-level importance for their wildlife. SINCs are used throughout the UK, under various names, and are included in relevant national planning policy (Planning Policy Statement 9 – Biodiversity and Geological Conservation; in which they are referred to as ‘Local Sites’), and national guidance (Local Sites – Guidance on their Identification, Selection and Management, Defra 2006). They are a non-statutory designation, used principally in relation to land use planning and development.
The SINC Panel is a group of local experts, including representatives from local authorities, with a detailed knowledge of the flora and fauna of Nottinghamshire. The Panel has developed a suite of criteria for designating SINCs in Nottinghamshire. Once the criteria have been agreed and adopted, the Nottinghamshire Biological and Geological Records Centre then applies the criteria to sites that they visit during field surveys. The SINC Panel is the key scientific authority of the SINC process, and continues to develop additional criteria for identifying sites of importance for a wide range of wildlife groups.
There are currently just over 1300 SINCs in Nottinghamshire, covering around 6.7 percent of the area of the county, the majority of which are designated because of their botanical interest or the type of habitat they represent. This information is provided to local authorities so that these important wildlife sites can be taken into account in the planning system. A county-wide map of all SINCs is available to view on the nomad mapping system at website: www.nomadplus.org.uk, or alternatively, you can contact the Nottinghamshire Biological Geological Records Centre website: www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk, who can supply details of the reasons for a site qualifying as a SINC. Their website also allows copies of the SINC criteria to be downloaded.
Download a leaflet about SINCs in Nottinghamshire [PDF 836KB].
Notified Road Verges (NRVs)
We have run the Notified Road Verge (NRV) scheme since 1979. The scheme was introduced in recognition of the fact that verges have considerable potential for nature conservation. The aim of the NRV scheme is to manage some of our best verges in a favourable way, in order to maintain their interest and contribute to the biodiversity resource of the county. There are currently 24 NRVs, located in Rushcliffe (4), Newark and Sherwood (16) and Bassetlaw (4). They support a wide range of species, some common, others much rarer, including enigmatic species such as orchids, and include the area of roadside verge in the Gamston and Eaton Woods and Roadside Verges SSSI. Download a document explaining more about the NRV scheme [PDF 58KB], which gives brief details of each of the sites, along with more detailed factsheets for each site.