Standing water

Context

Standing water includes natural systems such as lakes, meres and pools, as well as man-made waters such as reservoirs, canals, ponds and gravel pits.  It includes the open water zone (which may contain submerged, free-floating or floating-leaved vegetation) and water fringe vegetation.  Ditches with open water for at least the majority of the year are also included in this habitat type.
 
Standing waters are usually classified according to their nutrient status and this can change naturally over time or as a result of pollution.  These lake types exist along an environmental gradient and there are three main types, namely: oligotrophic (nutrient-poor), eutrophic (nutrient-rich), and mesotrophic (intermediate).  Other types of standing water include dystrophic (highly acidic, peat-stained water), marl lakes, brackish-water lakes, turloughs and other temporary water bodies.  Coastal saline lagoons are not included in this habitat type but are covered by the Lagoons category.
 
The transition between open water and land is often occupied by tall emergent vegetation called swamp or reedbed, or wet woodland called carr.  Where this is a feature in its own right it has been included in the Fens and marsh reporting category or the Broadleaved and mixed woodland reporting category as appropriate. 
 
SSSIs can be notified if they qualify under criteria outlined in Sections 4 and 5 of Chapter 6 Freshwater 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

  SAC A/SSSI Total
Favourable condition 68% 50% 52%
Main monitoring coverage E, S E, S  
Reported assessments 66 447 513
Completeness of assessments 61% unknown  
Distribution of features     UK
 

Number of assessments reported by country and site type

Country SAC SSSI/ASSI
England 21 348
Scotland 42 98
Wales 2 0
Northern Ireland 1 1
United Kingdom 66 447
 

Natura features

List of Natura 2000 interest features within this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported Total no. of features % assessed
Hard oligo-mesotrophic waters with benthic vegetation of Chara spp. Calcium-rich nutrient-poor lakes, lochs and pools 11 15 73%
Mediterranean temporary ponds Mediterranean temporary ponds 1 1 100%
Natural dystrophic lakes and ponds Acid peat-stained lakes and ponds 10 23 43%
Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition-type vegetation Naturally nutrient-rich lakes or lochs which are often dominated by pondweed 12 16 75%
Oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters with vegetation of the Littorelletea uniflorae and/or of the Isoëto-Nanojuncetea Clear-water lakes or lochs with aquatic vegetation and poor to moderate nutrient levels 27 47 57%
Oligotrophic waters containing very few minerals of sandy plains (Littorelletalia uniflorae) Nutrient-poor shallow waters with aquatic vegetation on sandy plains 4 4 100%
Turloughs Turloughs 1 2 50%
 
Natura 2000 comprises Special Protection Areas (under the Birds Directive) and Special Areas for Conservation (under the Habitats and Species Directive). The list presented here includes all of the qualifying interest features under these Directives, and shows the proportion of these features for which a condition assessment has been made.
 

SSSI features

List of SSSI and ASSI interest features in this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported
Base-rich loch Base-rich loch 10
Dystrophic and oligotrophic types present Dystrophic and oligotrophic types present 4
Dystrophic loch Dystrophic loch 1
Eutrophic loch Eutrophic loch 21
Loch trophic range Loch trophic range 3
Machair loch Machair loch 4
Meso-eutrophic loch Meso-eutrophic loch 1
Mesotrophic loch Mesotrophic loch 26
Oligo-mesotrophic loch Oligo-mesotrophic loch 1
Oligotrophic loch Oligotrophic loch 27
Standing Open Water And Canals Standing Open Water And Canals 348
Turloughs Turloughs 1
 
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 - Natura

Distribution of SAC features showing assessments of favourability Condition of SAC features, with those currently reported as unfavourable-recovering shown as favourable
Current condition of SAC features
Distribution of SAC features showing assessments of favourability (where unfavourable-recovering is counted as unfavourable).
Condition of SAC 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:

Natura map legend - Key: proportion of assessed features on 10km squares that are favourable

 

Details of how these maps were produced

 

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 Natura 2000 sites and SSSI

This lists the 10 different condition assessments and presents a bar chart showing the number of features within the SSSI series and the Natura 2000 series (either SPA for bird features or SAC for features other than birds). Note that for Natura 2000 we are able to estimate the number of features that have not been assessed during the 6 year reporting period - we are unable to do this for SSSI/ASSI 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 - Natura 2000 features

The number and proportion of assessments for Natura 2000 (SAC and SPA) interest features falling into each of the condition categories
The number and proportion of assessments for Natura 2000 (SAC and SPA) 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.
 

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

52% of standing water features reported are in favourable condition.  This is above the average for freshwater habitat features, above the average for habitat features, and slightly below the average for all features combined together.  50% of A/SSSIs for standing water features reported are in favourable condition and 12% unfavourable-recovering.  68% of SAC features reported are in favourable condition and 11% are unfavourable-recovering.
 
The proportion of standing water features reported in favourable condition is substantially better than for rivers and streams.  This may be due to the location of many of the waterbodies reported upon; they tend to be upland or northern in distribution, and therefore less subject to lowland agricultural pressures. 
 
A wide variety of pressures were recorded as acting on standing water features, with water quality being the most frequently recorded.  In many cases water quality problems have diffuse sources and at present the mechanisms for dealing with these off-site problems are limited.  Other common pressures are water management, invasive species and land use practices.  However, it is likely that certain pressures, such as the presence of invasive species, may be under-reported due to limited systematic recording.  Management agreements and schemes are the most common measures currently underway for improving the condition of sites.