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Special Protection Areas (SPAs)

The agreement by EEC Member States to ratify the Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds in 1979 has been a major influence on bird conservation across Europe. The Directive has wide ranging implications which include the requirement to classify Special Protection Areas (SPAs) for two groups of birds:

  1. those listed in Annex A of the Directive which are species that are rare or known to be vulnerable to habitat change; and
  2. all regular migrating birds.

The map below shows the UK network of SPAs. It contains some 243 sites covering around 1.5 million hectares. This equates to around 6% of the UKs land surface. The distribution across the UK is uneven: 136 are in Scotland, 80 in England. Much fewer are in Wales and Northern Ireland. The largest site is the North Pennine Moors. This site encompasses 17 SSSIs and is just under 150,000 ha. The smallest site is the tiny island of Glas Eileanan in Argyll which is just 1.43 ha in area. This site was chosen because it is a breeding site for the Common Tern Sterna hirundo .

More information can be found at www.jncc.gov.uk/UKSPA.

The UK Network of SPAs:

Moreinfo2_spa.jpg (49005 bytes)

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