Nidderdale AONB is home to some of the most precious wildlife in Yorkshire, and a lot of it is specially protected by law
A number of areas in Nidderdale AONB are designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest, (SSSI’s). These are nationally important sites designated by DEFRA and based on advice from the Government’s conservation advisory body Natural England under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. SSSIs can be biological, geological or both.
There are nine SSSIs in the AONB. The two moorland SSSI’s are massive and combined, make the North Pennines Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and the North Pennines Special Protection Area (SPA) – designated under European Union Regulations.
Brimham Rocks is both a biological and geological SSSI. Greenhow Quarry SSSI is designated for its geology.
The nine SSSIs are:
In North Yorkshire local Wildlife sites are called Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) and their designation seeks to protect areas rich in wildlife, including ancient woodland and flower-rich grassland. Local Geological Sites fall under the same category.
As a result of increasing pressures on land and climate, SINCs are often small, isolated and fragmented. Local Authorities have a duty under the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006, to have due regard for biodiversity and they need to include Local Wildlife Sites in their Local Plan. There are 86 SINCs in the AONB.
Road verges are patches of grassland that have avoided the disturbance of farming, though many have been affected by road works, underground cables, parking, litter and salt gritting.
A survey in 2012 and 2013 assessed the quality of all of the verges in Nidderdale AONB and proposed 30 for designation as Special Interest Verges (SIV). These are verges with the highest botanical interest. After further surveying in 2015 and a re-assessment of the verges, there are 29 confirmed SIVs with another nine awaiting survey in 2016. These sites need managing, particularly to prevent brambles, gorse and saplings getting established.
They are best cut after the end of August to allow the seeds time to mature and spread. Mowing in mid-summer can cut down species such as marsh orchids and also destroy the food plants of butterflies such as the meadow brown and ringlet.