Local Wildlife Sites

Local Wildlife Sites (LWS's) are wildlife-rich sites on land selected for their local nature conservation value. They vary in shape and size and contain important, distinctive and threatened habitats and species.

Across the majority of our three counties, they’re the principal wildlife resource but their designation is non-statutory and their only protection comes through the planning system. They’re not protected by law - unlike international Natura 2000 sites and national Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). However, whilst SSSIs form a representative sample of Great Britain’s wild places that meet national selection criteria, LWSs include all sites that meet local selection criteria. Most are on private land. For a national overview see here.

There are three county-level LWS systems covering this Trust’s land area:

Lancashire (Blackburn with Darwen, Blackpool, Burnley, Chorley, Fylde, Hyndburn, Lancaster, Pendle, Preston, Ribble Valley, Rossendale, South Ribble, Wyre)

In Lancashire, the LWSs are known as “Biological Heritage Sites” (BHSs). There are currently over 1 100 BHSsin the county, covering 25 000ha. This represents 8% of the county’s area. BHSs are identified using a set of published guidelines. The printed guidelines are available to purchase, or they may be viewed or downloaded electronically at no cost. Any necessary amendments to the list of sites are made annually by the BHS Review Panel which comprises ecologists from our Wildlife Trust, Lancashire County Council, and Natural England’s Cheshire to Lancashire Team. The system was established in the early 1990s.

You can find more information here.

North Merseyside (Knowsley, Liverpool, Saint Helens, Sefton)

The North Merseyside Local Site Partnership was established in June 2006 and has responsibility for delivering the Local Wildlife Site monitoring system and producing monitoring reports. The guidelines for selecting Local Sites in North Merseyside are available here.

Greater Manchester (Bolton, Bury, Manchester, Oldham, Rochdale, Salford, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan)

The LWS system in Greater Manchester was established in the early 1980s and is run by the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit (GMEU) for and on behalf of the area’s 10 local councils, with GMEU providing an overview of the system in the county context, coordinating data sets and maintaining a strategic input. There are more than 500 sites, which are known as “Sites of Biological Importance” (SBIs). There’s a map here that shows the approximate locations of the SBIs in Greater Manchester, along with the SSSIs and Local Nature Reserves (LNRs).

The guidelines for selection SBIs in Greater Manchester are available here

Secret Spaces: The status of Local Wildife Sites 2014

On 22 December 2014, The Wildlife Trusts published two reports: The status of England’s Local Wildlife Sites 2014 and a shorter summary report Secret Spaces: The status of Local Wildlife Sites 2014. The reports are available to download below, just click on the image to do so.


Would you like to help?

Our Biodiverse Society project involves volunteers in monitoring wildlife on accessible Local Wildlife Sites in Lancashire and North Merseyside.

Sorry, but we’ve not yet been able to secure funding for a similar project in Greater Manchester.