Published Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The benefits associated with Sites of Special Scientific Interest in England and Wales 

SSSIs cover around 8% of land in England and 12% in Wales and public expenditure on them has grown over recent years to over £110 million annually. Nonetheless, a study fon the benefits of SSSIs, led by GHK and with contributions from Sonja Gantioler (IEEP), finds that, as well as playing a vital role in biodiversity conservation, the value of the services provided by the network significantly exceeds the cost of protecting them. The report identifies the added value of designation (ie over and above what would have happened if the sites had not been designated) as the protection of many important concentrations of species, habitats and geology, and the enhanced delivery of higher levels of most ecosystem services. These services include provisioning services (such as fresh water, food, timber etc), regulating services (such as water purification, climate regulation, air quality) and cultural services (expressed through their use in education, attracting tourism, and providing sense of place).

The report follows the publication of the Natural Environment White Paper and England’s Biodiversity Strategy, and strongly justifies the UK government’s policy of increasingly considering the value of ecosystem services in decision-making.

The final report with further data and methodological details can be found below: