SSSI glossary


Adverse condition
If a SSSI unit is currently assessed as being in unfavourable no change, unfavourable declining, part destroyed or destroyed condition, it is described as being in adverse condition.
Citation
The citation details the 'features of interest' for which a SSSI is considered special and has been legally notified. Each citation shows details of the SSSI location, size and the date of notification. It also describes the general reasons for notification and the special habitats, geology, plants and/or animals that are found at the site.
Condition
The condition of the SSSI land in England is assessed by Natural England, using categories across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland through the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. There are six reportable condition categories: favourable; unfavourable recovering; unfavourable no change; unfavourable declining; part destroyed and destroyed.
Condition assessment comments
The condition assessment comments provide more detailed information about the condition assessment. Comments will not be present for every condition assessment.
Date compiled
The date the information was extracted from the Natural England Site Information System (ENSIS).
Destroyed
Lasting damage has occurred to an entire designated feature on the unit such that the feature has been irretrievably lost (no amount of management will bring this feature back). This feature will never recover in the unit. Eg a finite mineralogical feature has been totally removed from its surroundings without consent and is therefore lost forever.
Favourable
The designated feature(s) within a unit are being adequately conserved and the results from monitoring demonstrate that the feature(s) in the unit are meeting all the mandatory site specific monitoring targets set out in the FCT. The FCT sets the minimum standard for favourable condition for the designated features and there may be scope for the further (voluntary) enhancement of the features / unit. A unit can only be considered favourable when all the component designated features are favourable.
Latest assessment date
The date when the latest condition assessment was carried out.
Main habitat
The broadest classification of habitat with which the notified feature(s) on the unit forms a part of, or are associated with. The main habitat type is selected from a list of habitats given by the UK Biodiversity Broad Habitat classification, which sets the framework for commonly defining for 37 habitat types across the whole of the UK.
Notification date
The date the SSSI was notified to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by Natural England. If the SSSI notification has been amended, this will be the date of the last revision.
Operations requiring Natural England's consent (formerly known as 'operations likely to damage the special interest' (OLDs) or 'potentially damaging operations' (PDOs)
As part of a SSSI notification Natural England must provide a list of operations requiring Natural England's consent (in the past this list has been known as operations likely to damage the special interest or potentially damaging operations). None of the listed operations can be carried out or permitted without Natural England's prior written consent or the consent of another public body (provided that the other body has formally consulted Natural England first). This applies where a person wishes to undertake any of these operations themselves or plans to allow others to carry them out.

It is usually possible to carry out many of these operations in certain ways or at specific times of year, or on certain parts of the SSSI, without damaging the features of interest. Natural England can provide early advice and, where appropriate, issue a consent. In certain circumstances it will not be possible to consent to these operations, because they would damage the features of interest. Where possible Natural England will suggest alternatives which would enable a consent to be issued. To proceed without Natural England's consent may constitute an offence. If consent is refused, or if conditions are attached to it which are unacceptable to the owner or occupier, they may appeal to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Part destroyed
Lasting damage has occurred to part of the designated feature on the unit such that it has been irretrievably lost and will never recover (no amount of management will allow the feature to ever reach favourable condition). Conservation work may be needed on the residual interest of the unit. If more than one feature occurs in a unit, but only one is considered part destroyed, consideration should be given to reunitising out the destroyed area.
Reason for adverse condition
The reason why the unit is in adverse condition (ie unfavourable no change, unfavourable declining, part destroyed or destroyed). The reason is selected from a defined list.
SSSI unit
SSSI units are divisions of SSSIs used to record management and condition details. Units are the smallest areas for which Natural England gives a condition assessment. The size of units varies greatly depending on the types of management and the conservation interest. There are around 22,000 SSSI units.
SSSI unit area
The area of each SSSI unit in hectares calculated from digitised unit boundaries.
Staff member responsible for the site / unit
The Natural England staff member who is the main contact for the SSSI.
Staff member responsible
The Area Team staff member who is the main contact for the SSSI.
Unfavourable declining
The unit/feature is not being conserved and will not reach favourable condition unless there are changes to site management or external pressures. The site condition is becoming progressively worse, and this is reflected in the results of monitoring over time, with at least one of the designated features mandatory attributes not meeting its target (as set out in the site specific FCT) with the results moving further away from the desired state. The longer the SSSI unit remains in this poor condition, the more difficult it will be, in general, to achieve recovery.
Unfavourable no change
The unit/feature is not being conserved and will not reach favourable condition unless there are changes to the site management or external pressures and this is reflected in the results of monitoring over time, with at least one of the mandatory attributes not meeting its target (as set out in the site specific FCT) with the results not moving towards the desired state. The longer the SSSI unit remains in this poor condition, the more difficult it will be, in general, to achieve recovery. At least one of the designated feature(s) mandatory attributes and targets (as set out in the site specific FCT) are not being met.
Unfavourable recovering
Often known simply as 'recovering'. Units/features are not yet fully conserved but all the necessary management mechanisms are in place. At least one of the designated feature(s) mandatory attributes are not meeting their targets (as set out in the site specific FCT). Provided that the recovery work is sustained, the unit/feature will reach favourable condition in time.
Views about Management Statement (VAM)
The 'Views About Management' statement gives a straightforward account of the basic management that is needed to conserve and enhance the wildlife or geological features of the SSSI. By giving a clear and simple statement about the management principles for conservation, these views will help to clarify and build upon the existing understanding between SSSI owners and occupiers and Natural England about the management of their SSSIs.

The VAM places no additional obligation on the owner or occupier of a SSSI nor do they replace any more detailed management advice which Natural England may have already given, such as advice in a Site Management Statement or a Management Agreement.

Following the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, Natural England had to notify the owners and occupiers of all SSSIs about its views about the management of the SSSIs. The VAM now forms a legal part of all SSSI notifications.

Please follow the links for information on seeking Natural England’s advice to public bodies and to owner/occupiers.