A Statement on Common Standards Monitoring


Annex I - Glossary of terms used in Common Standards Monitoring and Reporting

This glossary defines the main terms used in common standards monitoring and reporting. It explains the specialist technical terms used by the conservation agencies. The glossary is not, however, exhaustive. Only terms that are directly relevant to the Statement On Common Standards Monitoring have been listed. Consistent terminology should be used in relation to all SSSIs, ASSIs, Natura 2000 and Ramsar sites.


A characteristic of a habitat, biotope, community or population of a species which most economically provides an indication of the condition of the interest feature to which it applies.
Biodiversity Broad habitats:
A framework classification of habitats contained in Biodiversity: The UK Steering Group Report (as amended by the Targets Group) which can be used to describe the whole land surface of the UK, and the surrounding sea to the edge of the continental shelf in the Atlantic ocean.
Compliance monitoring:
Monitoring to determine whether the management measures agreed for particular designated sites are in place and operating.
Condition categories:
The generic term describing the categories used for judging and reporting on the condition of an interest feature.
Condition monitoring:
Monitoring to determine the conservation status of interest features on statutory sites and to determine whether the conservation objectives for particular sites are being met.
Conservation objective:
A statement of the nature conservation aspirations for the features of interest on a site, expressed in terms of the favourable condition that we wish to attain for each interest feature.
Recording of the condition of an interest feature as destroyed indicates that an entire interest feature has been affected to such an extent that there is no hope of recovery, perhaps because its supporting habitat or processes have been removed or irretrievably altered.
Favourable - maintained:
An interest feature is recorded under the condition category favourable - maintained when its conservation objectives were being met at the previous assessment, and are still being met.
Favourable - recovered:
An interest feature can be recorded in the condition category favourable - recovered if it has regained 'favourable condition', having been recorded as 'unfavourable' on the previous assessment.
Favourable condition:
The target condition for an interest feature in terms of the abundance, distribution and/or quality of that feature within a site, that we aim the feature to attain.
Favourable conservation status:
A range of conditions for a natural habitat or species at which the sum of the influences acting upon that habitat or species are not adversely affecting its distribution, abundance, structure or function throughout the EU in the long term. The condition in which the habitat or species is capable of sustaining itself on a long-term basis.
Feature Monitoring Cycle:
The period within which each individual interest feature on a site should be monitored. [Set in the Common Standards Statement as 3 years]
Interest feature:
A habitat, habitat matrix, geomorphological or geological exposure, a species or species community or assemblage which is the reason for notification of the site under the appropriate selection guidelines or, in the case of Natura 2000 and Ramsar areas, the features for which the site will be designated.
Surveillance undertaken to ensure that formulated standards are being maintained. The term is also applied to compliance monitoring against accepted standards to ensure that agreed or required measures are being followed.
Overall Monitoring Cycle:
The period within which all designated sites and their interest features will be monitored. [Set as 6 years in the Common Standards Statement]
Partially destroyed:
Where sections or areas of certain interest features are destroyed or parts of sites are destroyed with no hope of reinstatement because the interest feature itself, or habitat or processes essential to support it, have been removed or irretrievably altered. Such cases would be recorded under the condition category partially destroyed.
Potentially damaging activities:
Any activity occurring in an SSSI that has the potential to damage the interest features for which the site has been designated.
Reporting categories:
The generic term which refers to the categories that will be used to report the results of SSSI/ASSI monitoring at the GB/UK level.
Reporting cycle:
The period within which a definitive report on the condition of features protected within the SSSI/ASSI series will be produced. [Set as once in every 6 years in the Common Standards Statement]
A continued programme of (biological) surveys systematically undertaken to provide a series of observations in time.
A set of standard observations, usually obtained with a standard method and within a restricted time period (see Surveillance and Monitoring)
Broad targets which describe the fluctuation of the attributes of an interest feature under prevailing conditions. Because all features are subject to some change the targets may express how much change we would accept whilst still considering the feature to be in favourable condition. These will serve as a trigger mechanism so that when changes that fall outside the thresholds expressed are observed or measured some further investigation or remedial action is taken.
Unfavourable - declining:
Decline is another possible consequence of a damaging activity. In this case, recovery is possible and may occur either spontaneously or if suitable management input is made. This condition category can be recorded more than once for a particular interest feature in relation to a single damaging activity.
Unfavourable - no change:
An interest feature may be retained in a more-or-less steady state by repeated or continuing damage; it is unfavourable but neither declining or recovering. In rare cases, an interest feature might not be able to regain its original condition following a damaging activity, but a new, stable state might be achieved.
Unfavourable - recovering:
An interest feature can be recorded under the condition category recovering after damage if it has begun to show, or is continuing to show, a trend towards favourable condition. This category can be recorded more than once for a particular feature in relation to a single damaging activity.