What is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)?
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) have been developed since 1949, identifying the UK’s best sites for flora, fauna, geological or physiographical sites. They are often used to support other conservation designations at a national and international level. SSSIs are designated under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, improving the provision of management and protection for SSSIs in England and Wales.
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The Severn Estuary SSSI
The Severn Estuary and many of the floodplain Levels surrounding it are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). Some of these features for which the site has been designated are also protected as a Ramsar site, as a SPA and as a SAC.
The ASERA jurisdiction area has numerous coastal SSSIs that cover a variety of designated features, from flora and fauna to geological formations. The most notable amongst these is the Severn Estuary SSSI, which covers approximately 15,000 ha of foreshore and inter-tidal habitat. It also forms part of a larger network which includes the Upper Severn Estuary SSSI and Bridgwater Bay SSSI. Also within the Estuary are the three island SSSI’s of Sully (near Barry), Flat Holm and Steep Holm. Other coastal sites include Aust Cliffs, Brean Down, Portishead to Black Nore, the Gwent Levels and the 675 ha of coastline from Blue Anchor to Lilstock (North Somerset).
The Newport Wetlands SSSI was designated in 2010. Its wide variety of habitats, including the 865 ha of inter-tidal foreshore, were created as compensation for the loss of the Taff/Ely Estuary SSSI at Cardiff Bay, following the completion of the barrage in 1999.