Current SSSIs in Wales
There are 1,019 SSSIs in Wales, covering over 235 thousand
hectares or just over 12% of the country’s land surface.
- SSSIs range from tiny sites to large tracts of land.
- The smallest is only 0.004ha – a Lesser Horseshoe bat roost in
- The largest is the Berwyn mountain range – 24,321ha of
moorland, with heath, blanket mire and upland birds.
- Four out of ten SSSIs are smaller than 10 ha; eight out of ten
are under 100ha.
SSSIs – losses and gains
New sites are added to the Welsh list of SSSIs but,
unfortunately, some are occasionally taken off the list. In Wales
in 2005-6, after considering losses and gains, there was a net
increase of two sites and 395 ha.
New SSSIs in 2005-6
Number of new sites 3
Existing sites extended 1
Increase in area 399ha
SSSIs lost in 2005-6
Number of sites lost (denotified) 1
Number reduced (partially denotified) 1
Area lost 3.7ha
Sites are taken off the list of SSSIs because of new information
about their importance, because they have been damaged or poorly
managed or because of climate change.
SSSIs – where are they?
On the coast
About 17% of the area covered by SSSIs is seashore or estuary.
Most of these sites are between low and high tides, although a few
are under water. More than 75% of the coastline of Wales between
high and low tides are SSSIs.
On the uplands
There are only 179 upland SSSIs but they are generally very
large sites and so account for 59% of the whole SSSI area. They
represent the range of different upland habitats.
In the lowlands
These are only 25% of the whole area but include a large number
of small sites, showing how natural habitats have been broken up by
man’s use of land.
About 24% of Wales’s main rivers are SSSIs, while 35% of the
areas of lakes in Wales are also designated.
SSSIs – the urban areas too
SSSIs are within easy reach of every one 253 SSSIs – nearly a
quarter of the total in Wales - are within 1km of a town or
You can find an SSSI near your home by using the Protected Area
search tool on the website.
Many SSSIs are privately owned and have no public access. Some
SSSIs are open to visitors or have limited public access.