Priority Species Gateway

(Natural Environment & Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 Sec. 41) 

5 banded digger wasp Nick Owens
5 banded digger wasp - Nick Owens

We aim to provide practical and useful information on Priority Species in Suffolk. This list comprises those species on the UK List of Priority Species and Habitats 2007 which have been recorded in Suffolk over the past 50 years. The species are listed under each of the priority habitats in which they are likely to occur.

Of course, species may be found in undesignated habitats too and so we've provided a brief description of some of the widespread habitats in Suffolk and given examples of a few characteristic priority species to watch out for in these sites.

A full list of the priority species and habitats in Suffolk can be seen here and click here to bring the Suffolk priority species and habitats to life in photos! 

We'd really like to hear your views on these pages - please tell us if you think they can be improved.

Background

All public bodies have a statutory duty to have regard to the conservation of biodiversity, as set out in the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act 2006 s.40. Find out more on the Government's Legislation website

Section 41 of the Act is the list which covers priority species and habitats (referred to in the Act as ‘living organisms and types of habitat which are of principal importance for the purpose of conserving biodiversity’ (in England')).These are also referred to as ‘UK Biodiversity Action Plan’ or ‘BAP’ species and habitats. There are over 302 priority species and 25 priority habitats in Suffolk.  Find out more on the JNCC website.

Suffolk Biodiversity Action Plan and Planning

Aylward Cornflower at Nacton
Cornflower at Nacton - Steve Aylward

The Suffolk Biodiversity Action Plan, which comprises a list of priority species and habitats in the county, is embedded in our local planning policies and they are material considerations in the planning process. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (Sections 109-125) also sets out the need to ‘conserve and enhance the natural environment’ by minimising impacts and providing net gains to biodiversity; thus contributing to the Government’s commitment to halt the overall decline in biodiversity.

Suffolk Nature Strategy (A 2020 Vision for Suffolk's Natural Environment) 2014 Recommendation 3 for Priority Habitats and Species (page 16) states 'Public bodies and statutory undertakers should ensure that, in exercising their functions, they have access and pay due regard to appropriate ecological evidence and advice so as to ensure that their duties under the relevant legislation are met.' 

Dealing with Priority Species in the Planning Process

An applicant needs to consider Priority species when developing proposals. This flowchart will guide the applicant through the process step by step. Download the flowchart here.

How to use the Priority Species checklist 

By clicking on the priority habitat below, you'll be able to check which priority species are associated with that habitat. Please note that the lists provide guidance only. Links to species photos on Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service’s Pinterest Board bring the list to life!

For further information on Suffolk species and habitats contact Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service.

Please note that species marked (Suffolk priority species) are not national priority species, but are special to Suffolk. For example, East Anglia is the UK stronghold for the Little Tern, supporting almost half of the UK population. So Suffolk has an important role to play in protecting this charismatic species.

Hedgerows

Traditional Orchards

Open Mosaic Habitats on Previously Developed Land (Brownfield)

Wood pasture and parkland

Lowland heathland

Lowland Calcareous grassland

Mixed deciduous woodland

Arable field margins

Reedbeds

Saltmarsh and mudflats

Coastal floodplain and grazing marsh

Lowland meadows

Wet woodland

Fens

Rivers and Streams

Lakes 

Coastal Sand Dunes

Coastal vegetated shingle

Maritime cliffs and slopes

Ponds

Saline lagoons

Marine Habitats and Species

 

Priority Species in the Wider Countryside and Built Environment

Priority species may be found in other habitats, such as clay farmland, conifer plantations and gardens, which are clearly important in the landscape. The following 'Wider Countryside' and the 'Built Environment - Towns and Villages' sections include some of the priority habitats listed above as well as some additional ones. A brief description of the main habitats is provided together with a few examples of characteristic priority Species to watch out for in these sites.

Wider Countryside

Farmland

Priority habitats often found in farmland - click on the link to see associated Priority species

Brown Hare Charles Cuthbert
Brown Hare - Charles Cuthbert

Clayland Farmland

Large plateau area, slightly undulating, on chalky boulder clay with small rivers and streams and the River Waveney. Some small, scattered parkland estates and a mix of ancient small irregular fields with pollard hedgerow oaks and large, modern fields devoid of hedges and trees.Large common grazing grounds and greens.Mostly arable, except for pasture in river valleys and remnant parkland. Boundaries formed by deep ditches, sometimes with hedges. Many small copses. Further info: Natural England National Character Area 83 >

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow, Swift,
Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,
Brown Hare, Shepherd's Needle, Corn Bunting, Eurasian Tree Sparrow (north Suffolk),
Linnet, Skylark, Northern Lapwing,Turtle Dove, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer

Coastal Sandy Farmland (Sandlings)

Flat or gently rolling landscape, very low rainfall. The soils are generally free-draining, infertile sands and gravels. The proximity of the sea ameliorates the temperature in winter to produce a more oceanic climate than in the Brecks. 

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling,  House Sparrow, Swift,
Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,  Brown Hare, 
Stone Curlew, Woodlark, Nightjar, Linnet, Skylark, Northern Lapwing, Turtle Dove,
Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer, Adder, Silver-studded Blue Butterfly, Annual Knawel,
Fine-leaved Sandwort

Brecks Farmland

The soils of the Breckland area in north-west Suffolk are free-draining, infertile sands and gravels. The distinctive landscape ranges from flint-strewn fields lined by twisted pines to sandy heath with.The term 'breck' refers to open sandy fields that went in and out of cultivation. They support species typical of early successional stages of heaths with lower competitive ability and a preference for well-drained soils and open sites. Further Info: Natural England National Character Area 85 >

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,
Brown Hare, Tower Mustard, Red-tipped Cudweed, Annual Knawel,
Fine-leaved Sandwort, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Skylark, 
Northern Lapwing,Turtle Dove, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer

Green Lanes

Green Lanes contain sheltered grassland habitat which may have escaped improvement and retained semi-natural features.

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,
Brown Hare, Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Crested Cow-wheat

Scrub

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling,, House Sparrow, Swift,
Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,
Brown Hare, Tree Pipit, Bullfinch, Linnet, Turtle Dove, Sloe Carpet,
Goat Moth, Dingy Mocha, Grey Carpet (Brecks)

Conifer plantations

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,
Brown Hare, Nightjar, Woodlark

Improved grassland

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, 
Common Toad, Brown Hare

Quarries

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,
Brown Hare, Wall butterfly, Chalk Screw moss, Frog orchid,
Bordered Gothic moth

Road verges (important for providing linkage between habitats)

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,
Brown Hare,Tower Mustard, Spring Speedwell (Brecks),
Wild Grape Hyacinth (Brecks), Crested Cow-wheat, Spanish Catchfly (Brecks)

Railway embankments (important for providing linkage between habitats)

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,
Brown Hare, Wall butterfly

River banks (important for providing linkages between habitats)

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad,
Brown Hare, Otter, Water Vole

Built Environment - Towns and Villages

The built environment includes managed greenspace such as school and hospital grounds as well as developments and green infrastructure, churchyards and retail parks. These sites may be home to priority species, for example, old buildings provide roosts for bats. 

Priority habitats which may found in the Built Environment - click on the link to see associated Priority species

Gardens and Allotments

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Common Starling, 
Stag beetle (Ipswich and Woodbridge areas), Herring Gull subsp. argenteus,
Weevil Hunting Wasp, 5-banded Tailed Digger Wasp, Wall butterfly,
Goat Moth,Four-spotted Moth, Thatch Moss, Great Crested Newt, 
Common Toad, Adder, Common Lizard, Slow Worm,Grass Snake,
Broad-leaved Cudweed, Annual Knawel, Fine-leaved Sandwort,
Large Garden Bumblebee, Marsh tit (rural gardens),
Wall butterfly, Necklace Ground Beetle

Parks, Recreation Sites and playing fields

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Common Starling, 
Stag beetle (Ipswich and Woodbridge areas), 
Herring Gull subsp. argenteus, Weevil Hunting Wasp,
5-banded Tailed Digger Wasp, Wall butterfly, Goat Moth,
Four-spotted Moth, Thatch Moss, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad, 
Adder, Common Lizard, Slow Worm,Grass Snake,
Broad-leaved Cudweed, Annual Knawel, Fine-leaved Sandwort, 
Harvest Mouse (parks), Common Lizard, Slow Worm

Golf courses

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Common Starling, 
Stag beetle (Ipswich and Woodbridge areas), 
Herring Gull subsp. argenteus, Weevil Hunting Wasp,
5-banded Tailed Digger Wasp, Wall butterfly, Goat Moth,
Four-spotted Moth, Thatch Moss, Great Crested Newt, 
Common Toad, Adder, Common Lizard, Slow Worm,Grass Snake,
Broad-leaved Cudweed, Annual Knawel, Fine-leaved Sandwort, 
Linnet, Skylark, Wood Lark, Corn Bunting

Churches and Churchyards

Hedge Accentor (Dunnock), Common Starling, House Sparrow,
Swift, Hedgehog, Song Thrush, Common Starling, 
Stag beetle (Ipswich and Woodbridge areas), 
Herring Gull subsp. argenteus, Weevil Hunting Wasp,
5-banded Tailed Digger Wasp, Wall butterfly, Goat Moth,
Four-spotted Moth, Thatch Moss, Great Crested Newt, Common Toad, 
Adder, Common Lizard, Slow Worm,Grass Snake, Broad-leaved Cudweed,
Annual Knawel, Fine-leaved Sandwort, Brown Long-eared Bat, Pipistrelle Bat

Grateful thanks to our partners for their invaluable assistance on this project, in particular, the RSPB, Suffolk Naturalists' Society (Suffolk County Recorders) and Suffolk Amphibian and Reptile Group.