Condition assessment of SSSIs
Monitoring of SSSIs is essential if we are to determine whether
or not they are in satisfactory condition. CCW is working towards
establishing systematic Common Standards Monitoring (CSM) across
the SSSI series in Wales. CSM is a nationally accepted approach,
which employs standardised methods to assess habitat, species and
geological features against a set of agreed criteria that indicate
the condition in each case. Implementing this type of monitoring
across over 4200 features on 1019 sites represents a significant
Monitoring aquatic plant communities in Llyn Coron
(Tywyn Aberffraw SSSI) using a bathyscope or underwater viewer.
By the end of 2006, CCW will have completed its first programme
of Common Standards Monitoring for SAC and SPA features, which will
be reported on in 2007. Because many of these sites are also SSSIs,
it will be possible to use this data to assess condition for a
significant number of SSSI features. Some specific SSSI monitoring
has also begun on a limited number of sites.
Meanwhile, CCW relies on ‘Rapid Review’ data to assess the
condition of SSSIs. Rapid Review monitoring offers only an
indicative picture of the condition of a sample of SSSI features.
It is based on an assessment of best available information (e.g.
survey data, field visits) for the features, combined with CCW
officers’ professional judgement.
The first Rapid Review exercise was carried out in 2003, and the
results published in the 2004-5 SSSI Report. The Review was
updated and extended during spring 2006 in response to the Wales
Environment Strategy, and, in addition to habitats, included
species and Earth science features for the first time.