Habitats & Botany | Site Condition Monitoring

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), and Ramsar sites are designated on the basis of notified features of interest. 

These features of interest include habitats or vegetation types or particular species of plants or animals. The countryside agencies have a rolling programme of assessment called Site Condition Monitoring (SCM) of the state of notified features on designated sites, against quality standards. In Scotland, for example Scottish Natural Heritage require SCM every six years for each feature.

SCM field assessment uses standard methods developed by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.  This consists of generic attribute and target tables for each feature.  For each feature on each site up to 37 sample points (depending on site size) are visited in the field. Sample points are located using GPS handsets. At each point observations in the appropriate table of attributes and targets are made, within a specified size of plot (e.g. 4m2) and/or within an easily viewable radius round the location, and while walking between points. The final assessment is based on the surveyor’s best judgement of whether at least 90% of each feature is likely to pass all the targets.

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Site Condition Monitoring | Case Study

Case Study 1 >>

South West Scotland

In  summer 2012 Carol Crawford, out technical director, won a contract to carry out SCM at two SACs and seven SSSIs in south west Scotland (in Dunbartonshire, Ayrshire and Wigtownshire). On each site 1 – 4 notified features of interest were assessed using the standard procedure. These features included rocky slopes, blanket bogs,  quaking bogs, wet heath and species-rich grasslands.