Introduction to the guidance manual
5. The relationship between common standards monitoring and the Habitats/Birds Directive
The requirements of the Habitats Directive have implications for common standards monitoring, particularly in relation to the scope of conservation objectives and the concept of favourable conservation status. These issues are equally pertinent to the Birds Directive.
5.1 The scope of conservation objectives
In relation to common standards monitoring, the term 'conservation objective' has a clear definition: it defines the favourable condition of an interest feature in terms of a set of targets or target ranges. This is fundamental to site assessment and management, and also serves reporting purposes. Although the term 'conservation objective' is defined differently in other situations (for example, Article 6.3 of the Habitats Directive), for the purposes of Common Standards Monitoring the definition in section 6.2 of this document should be used.
5.2 Favourable conservation status
Favourable Conservation Status is defined in Articles 1e and 1i of the Habitats Directive. However, whilst the UK nature conservation agencies agree that the concept can be applied at a variety of levels, there is ongoing debate as to the degree to which favourable conservation status can be applied directly at the site level. However, key elements which contribute to the determination of Favourable Conservation Status can be applied to sites.
For habitats, the elements of Favourable Conservation Status which relate to extent, structure, function, and typical species are used to provide guidance on attributes and targets. For species, the elements of population dynamics, range, habitat extent and quality are important.
Important elements which define Favourable Conservation Status which need to be reflected in the assessment of feature condition, are the 'long-term maintenance' and 'foreseeable future' criteria incorporated in Articles 1e and 1i of the Habitats Directive. For a feature to be assessed as being in favourable condition, the ecological circumstances need to be such that there is a reasonable expectation that the feature will be maintained in that condition (ie not deteriorate) in the long- term.