Local Wildlife Sites

Local Wildlife Sites

What are Local Wildlife Sites?

Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) are areas of land that are especially important for their wildlife. They are some of our most valuable wildlife areas in the UK. LWSs in Herefordshire reflect the county’s local character and distinctiveness and, since first selected in 1990, have played an important role in maintaining and enhancing wildlife in the county by supporting a rich diversity of habitats and providing networks and corridors across our landscape.

LWSs are identified and selected locally by partnerships of local authorities, nature conservation charities, statutory agencies, ecologists and local nature experts, using scientifically-determined criteria and surveys. Their selection is based on the most important, distinctive and threatened species and habitats within a national, regional or local context.

LWS are found on public and private land and include a vast range of semi-natural habitats from species-rich grasslands, ancient woodlands, fens and orchards to rivers and stream corridors. They complement the existing statutorily protected sites and form the core of a resilient ecological network.

Read our short guide to Local Wildlife Sites to find out more

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Local Wildlife site information for Landowners

There are a number of benefits from having LWS status attached to land. Read our information leaflet below to find out more. You can also find out if there is a LWS on your land by looking on the map.

Why Local Wildlife Sites are good news!

There are a number of benefits from having LWS status attached to land. The following points indicate areas which can be of positive support to Landowners:

  • LWS status is an indication of the great value of the biodiversity of the land and acknowledges the landowner’s excellent management over many years. They cover a small % of the county and are a positive asset in the eyes of many and may offer an edge in the diversification of farming enterprises.
  • Local Wildlife Sites are just that – LOCAL. They reflect what is important, valuable and distinctive in Herefordshire and they make a huge contribution to wider ecological networks throughout the county (note: there is overall guidance from Defra for LWS systems but site selection is local through a panel against local criteria)
  • Receipt of botanical survey data and habitat management plans/options with sign-posting to grants and other support
  • Survey information which can be used as a baseline for future agri-environment schemes e.g. ELMS and notably the Local Nature Recovery strand where payments by results may also be a feature 
  • Evidence of sward diversity (gained from a botanical survey) can be used to gauge likely carbon sequestration potential for possible future carbon credits as well as potential soil health status
  • Provides an element of protection (a general presumption against development)
  • A baseline botanical survey revealing good plant diversity can provide a route to the Priority Habitats Inventory (open access on Defra’s Magic Map) which in turn gives access to higher agri-environment scheme payments e.g. Countryside Stewardship GS6 option for species rich grassland.


The following positives are also worth noting:

  • LWS selection is non-statutory so does not impose any legal obligations or restrictions, but they are identified in a local authority search e.g. when purchasing property or land.
  • LWS status does not affect current agricultural activity – any management plans are advisory and will either complement existing good management or provide advice needed to enhance the biodiversity interest of the site
  • LWS selection does not grant any rights of access
  • Only a very small proportion of sites which are important for their biodiversity are designated as SSSI (i.e. statutorily designated and these comprise a representative sample only) which leaves a vast number of very important sites unrecognised and with no support – Local Wildlife Site selection can provide this support
  • LWS selection does not lead to SSSI designation – the two processes are entirely separate. There has been a huge reduction in the rate of SSSI designation by Natural England for more than a decade now and this is no longer a core part of the organisation’s business.  
  • Across the country, without Local Wildlife Sites and their sympathetic owners there would be far fewer places for wildlife

Location of Local Wildlife Sites in Herefordshire

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Get in Touch!

As part of our ‘A Wilder Herefordshire’ project, which runs until 2023, our Nature Recovery Network Officer, Sam Price, is identifying and surveying Herefordshire’s Local Wildlife Sites so that they can be improved for wildlife and better protected for the future.

If you are a landowner who owns land that you know or suspect to be a Local Wildlife Site:

  1. Please get in touch with Sam at Herefordshire Wildlife Trust: s.price@herefordshiret.co.uk , providing either a map of the site or a central grid reference, quoting the LWS ID that may be on your land.
  2. If the site is a LWS, we may be able to arrange with you to re-survey the site to get up to date records.