Guidelines for selection of Earth Science SSSIs
(1977)
Rationale, operational approach and criteria - the Geological Conservation Review
JNCC
The aim of the GCR was to identify the best, most representative, Earth science sites in Great Britain, with a view to their long-term conservation. Before the GCR, there were already SSSIs designated under existing legislation for their geological and geomorphological features, but the Review was a ‘from scratch’ assessment exercise.

Summary

 
The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the statutory adviser to Government on UK and international nature conservation. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching biological diversity, conserving geological features and sustaining natural systems. JNCC delivers the UK and international responsibilities of the four country nature conservation agencies - Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside, the Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England and Scottish Natural Heritage. JNCC, originally established under the Environmental Protection Act 1990, was reconstituted by the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006. JNCC, working with the nature conservation agencies, is the focus for the guidelines for the selection of Earth science Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). The term 'Earth sciences' as used here encompasses both geology and geomorphology.
 
The Geological Conservation Review (GCR) programme of work began in 1977 under the auspices of the former Nature Conservancy Council. The aim of the GCR was to identify the best, most representative, Earth science sites in Great Britain, with a view to their long-term conservation. Before the GCR, there were already SSSIs designated under existing legislation for their geological and geomorphological features, but the Review was a 'from scratch' assessment exercise. In fact, after re-evaluation, nearly all of the pre-1977 Earth science SSSIs were confirmed as retaining their national importance, and were therefore selected as GCR sites, and additional localities also deemed to be of national importance to the study of Earth sciences were identified, creating the comprehensive GCR site 'register'. The GCR register, its rationale and methods, presently underpins the process of selecting Earth science SSSIs and sets out the general principles upon which the nature conservation agencies reach judgements regarding special scientific interest of Earth science sites. In March 1993, the JNCC approved the document 'Guidelines for Selection of Earth Science SSSIs', which summarised the approach adopted in the GCR. In 1996, the rationale and methods of the GCR were published in 'An Introduction to the Geological Conservation Review' (volume 1 of the GCR Series), excerpts of which can be found on this website.
 
In Northern Ireland the designation Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) is the equivalent of the SSSIs, and, for Earth science sites, is underpinned by the Earth Science Conservation Review (ESCR). The responsibility for the identification and designation of these sites rest with the Environment and Heritage Service, Northern Ireland. See http://www.habitas.org.uk/escr/
 
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Please cite as: JNCC, (1977), Guidelines for selection of Earth Science SSSIs