Register of Sites of Special Scientific Interest

This register records sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs).

An SSSI is an area of protected land or water defined by the European Union's Habitats Directive as containing unique species or habitats of high scientific value for conservation.

What’s on the register?

Each entry on the register includes:

  • a description of the land and natural features that are of special interest
  • a map of the site boundaries
  • the type of protection it has been given
  • things you are not allowed to do on the site without consent

How SSSIs are identified

SSSI status can be granted to protect:

  • plants
  • animals
  • habitats
  • rock- or land-forms

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is the public body responsible for deciding which areas qualify for SSSI status by surveying the land and checking that it meets the criteria set down by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee.

SNH also works with landowners and managers to preserve the protected areas. You can find out more about how they do this on their website.

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