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Common Standards Monitoring

Common Standards Monitoring was developed to provide an agreed approach to the assessment of condition on statutory sites designated through UK legislation and international agreements.

Common Standards Monitoring Statement

An inter-agency working group comprising JNCC and the four country nature conservation bodies (Natural England, Natural Resources Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs, Northern Ireland) produced a revised Common Standards Monitoring Statement in October 2019.  This replaces the original Statement, produced in 1998, and summarises the rationale, need for, and the approach behind Common Standards Monitoring.

The new Statement aims to address site monitoring priorities and to incorporate the large amount of information available through new monitoring methods such as satellite imagery and eDNA. These techniques will work alongside traditional field-based monitoring and the Common Standards Monitoring guidance to provide more options for monitoring the UK’s protected sites.

Some of the content of the 2004 Introduction to the Guidance Manual is not consistent with the 2019 Statement, in particular the list of common standards. Where there are inconsistencies, the 2019 Statement should be applied.

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What is Common Standards Monitoring?

One of the key responsibilities of the country nature conservation bodies (CNCBs) in the UK is the identification and protection of a series of sites intended to conserve important wildlife and earth science features. Such sites may be designated under:

  • National legislation (Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) in Britain and Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) in Northern Ireland);
  • European Directives (Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs)); or
  • International Conventions (Ramsar sites).

Once sites have been designated, the country nature conservation bodies work with owners, occupiers and others to secure their management and protection.

Common Standards Monitoring is intended to be:

  • A simple, quick, assessment of feature condition;
  • For protected sites (SAC, SPA, Ramsar, SSSI, ASSI);
  • Supported by limited, more detailed monitoring.

'Features' are the species, habitats and geological and geomorphological characteristics for which sites are protected. For example, they might be:

  • seals, butterflies, breeding birds;
  • woodlands, lagoons, heathlands;
  • fossils, landforms.

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Common Standards Monitoring Report (2006)

The Common Standards Monitoring Report for designated sites was published in June 2006.

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