Site of Special Scientific Interest

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A Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom. SSSIs are the basic building block of site-based nature conservation legislation and most other legal nature/geological conservation designations in Great Britain are based upon them, including National Nature Reserves, Ramsar Sites, Special Protection Areas, and Special Areas of Conservation.

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SSSI selection and conservation

Sites notified for their biological interest are known as Biological SSSIs, and those notified for geological or physiographic interest are Geological SSSIs. Many SSSIs are notified for both biological and geological interest.

Biological SSSIs

Biological SSSIs may be selected for various reasons, governed by published SSSI Selection Guidelines.

Within each area, the best examples of each significant natural habitat may be notified, and for rarer habitats all examples may be included.

Sites of particular significance for various taxonomic groups may be selected (for example birds, dragonflies, butterflies, reptiles, amphibians, etc.)—each of these groups has its own set of selection guidelines.

Conservation of biological SSSIs usually involves continuation of the natural and artificial processes which resulted in their development and survival—for example, the continued traditional grazing of heathland or chalk grassland.

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