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Payment By Results For New SSSI Management Agreements

News from English Nature
25th April 1996

An innovative and successful scheme for management agreements on Sites of Special Scientific Interests (SSSIs) is being adopted England-wide by English Nature. The scheme, called the Wildlife Enhancement Scheme (WES), reimburses owners and managers of SSSIs for carrying out agreed conservation tasks.

The Wildlife Enhancement Scheme centres on a simple agreement, in plain English, setting out the management tasks necessary to maintain and enhance a particular SSSI for nature conservation. Standard payments have been devised for dealing with many different types of habitat. These make future nature conservation agreements much more straight forward than old-style arrangements which compensated SSSI owners and managers for loss of potential agricultural productivity.

This new approach enables English Nature to work with owners and managers and reward them for fine tuning regimes to the special needs of an SSSI.

Many old-style agreements were drawn up in the Seventies and Eighties when public money encouraged the intensification of agriculture and forestry. This has largely changed, and we need to make landowners and managers more aware of the benefits of managing land for conservation," said Paul Silcock, English Nature’s WES Co-ordinator. "It is payment by results for nature conservation and makes sense in today’s society."

English Nature is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture to ensure that WES agreements mesh in with MAFF’s key schemes for the wider countryside, Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs) and Countryside Stewardship.

"People seem a lot happier with WES because it is easier to understand and the conditions and management tasks are clear and uniform for everyone on an SSSI. Everyone is a lot more positive as they are being acknowledged for taking a responsible attitude towards conserving special sites," said Paul Silcock.


There are over 3,800 SSSIs in England. They cover approximately 7% of England’s land area. They are notified by English Nature because of their importance for wildlife, geology or physiography. Most are privately owned or managed.

Wildlife Enhancement Schemes currently cover the following areas: Culm Grasslands - Devon; Pevensey Levels - East Sussex; Coversand Heaths and Peatlands - Yorkshire; Craven Limestone Grasslands - Yorkshire; Dorset Heathland; Thames Basin and Wealden Heaths; Magnesian Limestone Grassland - Tyne & Wear to Derbyshire; Hereford and Worcester Grasslands; Avon Levels; North Penine Moorlands.

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