Fossils

Context

Geological Conservation Review (GCR) sites are selected for, and grouped according to, GCR blocks, which are site-selection categories for nationally important Earth science sites.  There are around 100 'blocks' and about 3,000 GCR sites in Britain.  Each 'block' represents a particular geological age or Earth science theme, such as Marine Permian Stratigraphy, Jurassic–Cretaceous Reptilia, Caledonian Igneous Rocks and Quaternary of Scotland.
 
Fossil (palaeontological) blocks address the evolution and diversity of significant animal and plant groups which are not included in the stratigraphy (rock sequence) blocks and therefore have independent block status.  Most invertebrate fossils (e.g. trilobites, echinoderms, ammonites and other molluscs) are addressed within the stratigraphical blocks, because these fossils are widely used in correlating rock strata.  However, because of the relative rarity of fossils such as reptiles, fish, mammals, birds, terrestrial plants, insects and other arthropods (excluding trilobites), these are covered in separate palaeontological blocks.  Geological time is used as the basis to refine the definition of some blocks, for example, Jurassic–Cretaceous Reptilia.
 

Summary statistics

  A/SSSI Total
Favourable condition 86% 86%
Main monitoring coverage E, S  
Reported assessments 274 274
Completeness of assessments approx.75%  
Distribution of features   UK
 

Number of assessments reported by country and site type

Country SSSI/ASSI
England 202
Scotland 69
Wales 0
Northern Ireland 3
United Kingdom 274
 

SSSI features

List of SSSI and ASSI interest features in this reporting category

Interest feature name  
Formal name Informal name No. of assessments reported
Arthropoda Arthropoda 6
Arthropoda (excluding insects and trilobites) Arthropoda (excluding insects and trilobites) 7
Aves Aves 8
Carboniferous - Permian Fish/Amphibia Carboniferous - Permian Fish/Amphibia 1
Jurassic - Cretaceous Reptilia Jurassic - Cretaceous Reptilia 25
Mesozoic - Tertiary Fish/Amphibia Mesozoic - Tertiary Fish/Amphibia 23
Mesozoic Mammalia Mesozoic Mammalia 9
Mesozoic Palaeobotany Mesozoic Palaeobotany 18
Palaeoentomology Palaeoentomology 18
Palaeozoic Palaeobotany Palaeozoic Palaeobotany 27
Permian - Carboniferous Fish/Amphibia Permian - Carboniferous Fish/Amphibia 5
Permian - Triassic Reptilia Permian - Triassic Reptilia 16
Pleistocene Vertebrata Pleistocene Vertebrata 28
Precambrian Palaeontology Precambrian Palaeontology 3
Silurian - Devonian Chordata Silurian - Devonian Chordata 45
Tertiary Mammalia Tertiary Mammalia 7
Tertiary Palaeobotany Tertiary Palaeobotany 22
Tertiary Reptilia Tertiary Reptilia 3
Upper Palaeozoic Palaeontology Upper Palaeozoic Palaeontology 1
Upper Palaeozoic Palaeontology Faragonodoo 1
Upper Palaeozoic Palaeontology Portnaloub 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 - 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

About 75% of sites with fossils as notified features are accounted for in the report, 87% of which are reported in favourable condition.  This is about the average for geological features and well above the average for all features combined.  1% of features reported are unfavourable-recovering. 
 
The reasons for unfavourable condition in the majority of these cases is more likely to be that the sites are obscured in some way, rather than because of damage by fossil collectors.