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Sites of nature conservation interest are usually given a designation to protect and identify them. These designations vary greatly in the amount of protection they give. The different designations are issued by different bodies, and often for different reasons.
National Designations found within the UK
Nature Conservation Designations:
• Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
• Local Nature Reserve (LNR)
• National Nature Reserve (NNR)
• Marine Nature Reserve (MNR)
• Local Designations: eg Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC)
• Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS)
• National Park
• Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)
• Heritage Coasts
• National Scenic Areas
• Green Belt
• Country Park
• Village Green
• Common Land
The History of Conservation Legislation in the UK: an article giving some history of UK legislation since 1949, including useful sections on SSSIs.
European Designations found in the UK.
• Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
• Special Protection Area (SPA)
International Designations found in the UK
• World Heritage Site
• Ramsar Site
• Biosphere Reserve
Agricultural Designations (in the UK)
• England Rural Development Programme: a range of schemes which affect agricultural land in England (Similar schemes exist in other UK countries). Almost every national government land-based grant scheme can be found here.
• Environmentally Sensitive Area.
• Nitrate Vulnerable Zones (NVZ).
• Nitrate Sensitive Area (NSA): now closed to new entries although old schemes still running - not to be confused with National Scenic Area. See instead NVZs.
• Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM)
• Conservation Area
• Rural Development Areas (RDAs)