County Wildlife Sites

Ox-eye Daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare)

Suffolk County Wildlife Sites

County Wildlife Sites (CWS) play a key role in the conservation of Suffolk’s biodiversity. Suffolk has over 900 County Wildlife Sites, amounting to around 11,000 hectares and covering almost 3% of the county. County Wildlife Site designation is non-statutory, but it recognises the high value of a site for wildlife. Many sites are of county, and often regional or national, importance. They are often designated because they support characteristic or threatened species or habitats.

Sites may be privately or publicly owned and vary in size and shape from small meadows, green lanes, dykes and hedges to much larger areas of ancient woodlands, heathland, greens, commons and marsh.


"Suffolk has over 900 County Wildlife Sites, amounting to around 11,000 hectares and covering almost 3% of the county."


County Wildlife Site designation

County Wildlife Sites are designated according to CWS selection criteria that follow Natural England guidelines. The Suffolk CWS panel has a specific and closely defined remit, Suffolk CWS Panel Remit, and follows a specific procedure Suffolk CWS panel procedure, made up of expertise from Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Biodiversity Information Service (SBIS), Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Natural England. The Panel meets to assess and designate potential CWSs based on information submitted to them. Information should be submitted on a fully completed Proposed CWS survey form and surveyors should refer to the CWS FAQ for more details before submitting information. The boundaries of sites may also be reviewed and amended in the light of new information following the CWS Review Procedure , please see also the CWS Review procedure FAQ.  The Suffolk register of County Wildlife Sites includes their location, boundaries and key features. A map of County Wildlife Sites is maintained and updated by SBIS.

County Wildlife Sites and Planning

Bulls Wood Panoramic

County Wildlife Sites are recognised by national planning policy (Planning Policy Statement 9) as having a fundamental role to play in meeting national biodiversity targets. CWSs are not protected by legislation, but their importance is recognised by local authorities when considering any relevant planning applications and there is a presumption against granting permission for development that would have an adverse impact on a site. Such measures have been strengthened by the provisions of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act (NERC) 2006 which requires all public bodies to 'have regard for' the conservation of biodiversity. Suffolk Wildlife Trust (SWT) monitors planning applications for any potential impact on County Wildlife Sites


"Wildlife habitats can deteriorate if neglected or managed in an unfavourable way."


The appropriate management and protection of these sites for wildlife is important and advice can be provided to landowners, businesses and local authorities on suitable management for the long-term benefit of its wildlife. This includes information on sources of grant-aid. This is particularly important as wildlife habitats can deteriorate if neglected or managed in an unfavourable way.

If you would like to arrange an advisory visit to your land or would like further information on CWSs, please see the CWS Information Sheet for landowners and managers.