Protected & important species & habitats

Protected Habitats

Powys is home to a huge variety of wildlife. Many plants, mammals, birds, fish, insects and fungi in Powys are protected by law and/or classed as nationally or locally important. There are also some areas of land and water that are protected because of the wildlife that live there. 

If you need information about the location or distribution of particular species or habitats in Powys please contact the Biodiversity Information Service for Powys and Brecon Beacons National Park (BIS), the county's local biological records centre. 

There are several types of legally-protected sites in Powys, including: 

SSSIs give legal protection for the best examples of the UK's plants, animals or landscapes. These sites are also used to support other national and international nature conservation designations, such as Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). Most SSSIs are privately-owned or managed. There are over 200 SSSIs in Powys

SACs are designated under the European Commission’s Habitats Directive. They are areas which best represent the range and variety of habitats and (non-bird) species within the European Union. SACs, together with Special Protection Areas, form the Natura 2000 network. There are several SACs in Powys, including the Wye and Usk rivers. 

SPAs are classified by the UK Government under the EC Birds Directive. They the most important habitats for rare and migratory birds within the European Union. 

Ramsar sites are designated under legislation agreed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971. Originally intended to protect important waterfowl habitats, they now cover all aspects of wetland conservation. Ramsar sites celebrate wetlands as extremely important places for biodiversity, conservation and human well-being. A small part of the Ramsar site on the Dyfi estuary is in Powys. 

National parks have conserved and enhanced rural landscapes since 1949. They also promote public enjoyment of the countryside and must have regard for the social and economic well being of those living within them. More information about the Brecon Beacons National Park can be found on their website

NNRs are some of Britain’s most important natural and semi-natural sites. They are managed to conserve habitats and to allow the scientific study of the species living there.

Local Nature Reserves are designated and managed by the council for nature conservation. They provide opportunities for research and education, and for people to enjoy nature. Lake Park in Llandrindod Wells became a LNR in 2010

These are managed by local authorities to provide recreation and leisure opportunities, but many are also areas of semi-natural habitat and so enable recreation and the natural environment to coexist. Craig-y-nos Country Park is located within the Brecon Beacons.

Information and advice about legally protected species, SSSIs, SACs, SPAs, NNRs and Ramsar sites can be obtained from the Countryside Council for Wales.

See also the pages on Bats and Birds. 

Not all areas that are important for wildlife are legally protected. Local authorities and/or wildlife trusts have developed criteria to select sites that are important for local biodiversity. Once sites are identified, we give information and advice to landowners to help with wildlife-friendly management.

In Powys, we’ve set up a network of Wildlife Sites (WS) with landowners to preserve remaining semi-natural habitats. The County Council also manages a network of over a hundred Road Verge Nature Reserves, selected and managed to conserve their botanical interest. More information about the RVNR network can be found on the Powys Biodiversity Partnership pages. 

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