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FIVE MORE SCOTTISH CONSERVATION SITES PROPOSED

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A further five sites in Scotland are being proposed to the ...
A further five sites in Scotland are being proposed to the

European Commission as candidate Special Areas of Conservation

(SACs) under the EC Habitats Directive, Lord Sewel, Scottish minister for agriculture, environment and fisheries has announced.

The sites are: Ben Nevis, Ben Wyvis, Caenlochan, Cairngorms and

Drumochter Hills.

Lord Sewel said:

'The five candidate SACs which I have proposed to the

European Commission are all montane sites and as such represent some

of our rarest and most fragile habitats. The sites offer a further major contribution to the Natura 2000 network of protected areas. They encompass a wide range of habitat types from Caledonian pine

woodlands in the glens to montane habitats such as sub-arctic willow

scrub, alpine calcareous grasslands and alpine and sub-alpine heaths on the high tops.

'The proposal of these sites to the European Commission is a

further indication of the government's commitment to implementing

the Habitats Directive and to playing our full part in establishing the Natura 2000 network. The five sites extend to over 85,000 hectares

which represents almost one-tenth of the area of Scotland notified as

Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

'These sites were originally recommended to government as

possible SAC by Scottish Natural Heritage in 1995 and the site

boundaries are those on which full public consultations have taken

place. If a compelling case is made on scientific grounds for a change

to the boundaries, I shall of course take heed of any further advice from SNH. Any proposed modifications would be subject to the usual full consultations.

'In addition to the national and international importance of

these sites in nature conservation terms, I am also aware of their

economic importance to rural communities and the pressures which

may result from this. I hope the sites will continue to be managed in a sustainable manner compatible with maintaining their special nature

conservation interests while at the same time supporting important uses such as forestry, farming, tourism and recreation.'

NOTES

1.The Council Directive on the Conservation of Natural Habitats

and Wild Fauna and Flora (92/432/EEC) requires Member States to

designate certain sites as Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). From

these national lists, the member states and the commission will agree

(by June 1998) the sites of committee importance which will become

designated SACs. The Habitats Directive was transposed into GB law

by the Conservation (Natural Habitats &c) Regulations 1994.

2.The habitat types and species which require site designation are

listed in Annexes I and II of the Directive. Annex III gives criteria for the selection of sites. 75 habitat types and 47 species are proposed for site designation in the UK.

3.A consultation exercise on a first list of possible SACs began in

March 1995. This was followed up by consultations on the second list

of possible SACs which began on October 1, 1997. The second list of

possible SACs includes extensions to existing sites including

Caenlochan and Cairngorms.

4.The sites which have been proposed to the European

Commission as candidate SACs today are as follows:

Scotland

Ben Nevis (9317 hectares)

Ben Wyvis (5387 hectares)

Caenlochan (4974 hectares)

Cairngorms (55996 hectares)

Drumochter Hills (9445 hectares)

England

Kennet and Lambourn Floodplain

Wales

Pembrokeshire Islands

5.From the list of 280 sites which were consulted on in March

1995 three tranches of sites have already been forwarded to the

European Commission as candidate SACs. The first tranche of 136

candidate sites (43 in Scotland) was proposed on June 20, 1995, the

second tranche of 75 sites (18 in Scotland) was submitted on January 8, 1996 and the tranche of 44 sites (33 in Scotland) on October 14, 1996.

6.Explanatory notes which set out in detail the rationale for the

selection of UK possible SACs will be available from mid-October.

Jane Robson: 0131 244 2910

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