Upland assemblages

Context

The upland assemblages discussed here have only been used in Scotland.  The assemblages were devised as a way to encompass the reasoning in the SSSI selection guidelines for selecting sites based on whole topographic units.  It has tended to be used in Scotland for SSSIs where citations did not clearly pick out specific habitats.  The term is used for areas of mosaic habitats where the assemblage itself is an important aspect.  The assemblage can include feature types of: calcareous grasslands, acid grasslands, dwarf shrub heath, fen, marsh and swamp, bogs, montane, inland rock, scrub and woodland. 

 
SSSIs can be notified if they qualify under criteria outlined in Chapter 9 Upland habitats of the Guidelines for Selection of Biological SSSIs.  In Northern Ireland, ASSIs are selected on a very similar basis – the Guidelines for the Selection of Biological ASSIs in Northern Ireland is an addendum to the SSSI guidelines rather than an alternative.
 

Summary statistics

  A/SSSI Total
Favourable condition 87% 87%
Main monitoring coverage S  
Reported assessments 55 55
Completeness of assessments unknown  
Distribution of features   S
 

Number of assessments reported by country and site type

Country SSSI/ASSI
England 0
Scotland 55
Wales 0
Northern Ireland 0
United Kingdom 55
 

SSSI features

List of SSSI and ASSI interest features in this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported
Upland assemblage Upland assemblage 55
 
This list has not been fully standardised at a UK level yet. It is intended to show the principal constituent "feature types" for this reporting category.
 

Maps - distribution

UK distibution of reported interest features

Distribution of reported interest features.

Map showing the locations of the 10km squares in which at least one condition assessment has been reported. It does not show features that have not yet been assessed.

 

Maps - SSSI

Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
Current condition of SSSI/ASSI features
Distribution of SSSI/ASSI features showing assessments of favourability (where unfavourable-recovering is counted as unfavourable).
Condition of SSSI/ASSI features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
The implication of the unfavourable-recovering condition assessments is that at some point in the future these features should become favourable. This map shows the effect of that recovery by counting the favourable and unfavourable-recovering assessments together.

 

IMPORTANT NOTE: we do not have information on the timescale of the predicted recovery, which may be influenced by many past, natural and human related factors. A sustained sympathetic management regime is more likely to result in favourable condition being attained.

Key: Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable:

SSSI map legend - Proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable

 

Details of how these maps were produced

 

Condition summary

Reporting category condition summary on SSSI/ASSI sites

This lists the 10 different condition assessments and presents a bar chart showing the number of features within the SSSI series. Note that we are unable to estimate the total number of SSSI/ASSI features because we do not have an overall list of notified interest features for these designations.

 

NB favourable unclassified and unfavourable unclassified have been used in this first six year cycle to get around difficulties in identifying trends in condition as common standards monitoring is implemented. It is expected that these categories will not be used for subsequent assessments of a feature.

 

Condition assessment - SSSI features

The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for SSSI/ASSI interest features falling into each of the condition categories. Note that the �unfavourable� category includes all reports of unfavourable condition except �unfavourable recovering� which is shown as a separate segment.
 

Adverse activities

The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature
The number of interest features where an activity has been reported as being implicated in the "unfavourable" condition of a feature. More than one adverse activity may be reported for each feature.
 

Management measures

The measures summary bar chart lists the management measures relevant to the reporting category
For each "measure" the chart shows the number of interest features where that measure has been taken on a site to improve or maintain the condition of an interest feature. More than one measure may be reported for each feature assessed.
 

Interpretation

87% of the SSSI features reported are in favourable condition.  This is the highest proportion of favourable condition for any habitat type, and is well above the average for terrestrial habitats, all habitats, or for all features combined.  A further 2% of features reported are unfavourable-recovering. 
 
However, many of these sites are also covered by SACs, for which particular habitat features have been identified, and the SAC features, which are reported under other reporting categories, probably give a better indication of the condition of features on these sites.  The likely reason why these features have been assessed to be in better condition than other upland habitats is that it is the continued presence of the components of the assemblage which is assessed, not the condition of the detailed habitat types. 
 
The reported activity that has had the greatest impact contributing to unfavourable condition on upland assemblages is over-grazing, followed by invasive species and burning.  There is still a need to get the right amount of grazing at the right time of year.  The reporting of measures taken to address unfavourable condition indicates that management agreements/schemes and agri-environment schemes are in place on many sites.