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Countryside Council for Wales
Landscape & wildlife Please note - A new body, Natural Resources Wales has taken over all functions and services previously carried out by Countryside Council for Wales. While the Natural Resources Wales website continues to be developed, some online services will continue to be provided on this web site.

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 Pembrokeshire
  • 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.

Freshwater sites

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 city.

You can find an SSSI near your home by using the Protected Area search tool on the website.

Visiting SSSIs

Many SSSIs are privately owned and have no public access. Some SSSIs are open to visitors or have limited public access.
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Email address
Postal address
The landscapes team [SSSI]
C/O Enquiries
LL57 2DW
Telephone number
0845 1306229
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