County Wildlife Sites

Bumble beeBumble bee by Darin Smith

County Wildlife Sites (CWS) have a key role in the conservation of Suffolk’s biodiversity and are important links in Suffolk's Living Landscape.

Suffolk Wildlife Trust is committed to encouraging the appropriate management and protection of CWS for wildlife. Advice is provided to landowners, businesses and local authorities on conservation management including possible sources of funding. If you would like to arrange a CWS advisory visit please contact the Suffolk Wildlife Trust’s Conservation Office on 01473 890089.

Suffolk has nearly 900 CWS that represent approximately 5% of the county. CWS designation is non-statutory but is recognition of a site's high value for wildlife, with many sites being of county and often regional or national importance. They often support characteristic or threatened species and habitats included in Local and National Biodiversity Action Plans. 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.

County Wildlife Sites are designated according to selection criteria. The Suffolk CWS panel, made up of representatives from Suffolk County Council, Suffolk Biological Records Centre (SBRC), Suffolk Wildlife Trust and Natural England, meets to assess and designate CWS using the Suffolk CWS criteria. SBRC maintain a register that includes CWS locations, boundaries and key features. A county scale map summarises CWS in Suffolk. It is important to be aware that the majority of CWS are privately owned and do not have public access. For details of how the CWS system works visit the Suffolk Biodiversity Partnership website.

In addition to our CWS advisory work Suffolk Wildlife Trust also monitors planning applications for impact on County Wildlife Sites:

CWS are recognised by national planning policy (National Planning Policy Statement (NPPF)) as having a fundamental role to play in meeting overall national biodiversity targets. CWS are not protected by legislation but their importance is recognised by local authorities when considering planning applications. Under current planning policy there is a presumption against granting permission for development that would have an adverse impact on a CWS. This has been strengthened by the provisions of the Natural Environment and Rural Communities Act 2006 that require all public bodies to have regard for the conservation of biodiversity.

Some CWS are also Roadside Nature Reserves and their management is co-ordinated and undertaken by Suffolk County Council. For more information on Roadside Nature Reserves click here.