Helping to protect local wildlife

Wildlife Sites are areas of land of recognised importance for wildlife, which fall outside the legal protection of the Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) system. 

We have identified over 1500 such sites within Wiltshire and Swindon, with a total area of about 22,000 Hectares. Together with the county’s 28,000 Hectares of SSSI these form the core of a vital network of threatened habitats such as ancient woodlands, hay meadows, wetlands and chalk grasslands, providing space for many of the county’s declining animal and plant species. To ensure the protection of these sites we work alongside landowners and managers.

The Wildlife Sites Project

For nearly twenty years we have been developing working relationships with owners and managers of all Wildlife Sites, helping them to understand the value and importance of their sites. We encourage and support management practices that conserve and enhance the value of these sites for wildlife and offer advice and assistance in obtaining grant-aid for such management.

Sites are selected by the application of rigorous, science-based criteria which aim to identify all the important areas for wildlife in the county. As well as providing high quality advice we return to monitor each of them every few years. We also work with other bodies, such as the Cotswold Water Park Trust and Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area as well as the Local Planning Authorities to attempt to halt the decline in wildlife habitats and to enhance wild spaces in the wider countryside.

The project has amassed one of the largest datasets of habitat and species information in the county and through Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre, contributes to national initiatives including the National Biodiversity Network.