Special Area of Conservation

A Special Area of Conservation (SAC) is defined in the European Union's Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC), also known as the Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora. They are to protect the 220 habitats and approximately 1000 species listed in annex I and II of the directive which are considered to be of European interest following criteria given in the directive. They must be chosen from the Sites of Community Importance by the State Members and designated SAC by an act assuring the conservation measures of the natural habitat.[1]

SACs complement Special Protection Areas and together form a network of protected sites across the European Union called Natura 2000. This, in turn, is part of the Emerald network of Areas of Special Conservation Interest (ASCIs) under the Berne Convention.

Assessment methodology in the United Kingdom

Prior to being designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), sites are assessed under a two-stage process set out by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee. The value of the proposed site is considered in relation to the whole national resource of each habitat type and of each species.

Stage one

Firstly, assessment of the relative importance of sites containing examples of the individual habitat types. Four criteria are used:

Secondly, species assessment evaluates population size and density, the degree of conservation of the features of the habitat that are important for the species and restoration possibilities, the degree of isolation of the population in relation to the species' natural range and a global assessment of conservation value.[2]

Stage two

This stage is often informally referred to as 'moderation'. The criteria used in Stage 2 are intended to be used to assess the sites at the level of the nine biogeographical regions and the EU as a whole. The Stage 2 criteria may be summarised as:

See also


External links

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