Identifying UK BAP priority rivers


Over 8,500 stretches of river in the UK have been listed as potential or candidate UK BAP priority river stretches, in a recently published list.  The information is the culmination of several years of work since the review of UK BAP priority habitats and species in 2007.The digital rivers network for Northern Ireland (blue lines), overlain by riverine Areas of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs) (red lines). Priority river stretches can be identified where the ASSIs intersect with the underlying rivers network.


The definitions and list of criteria are summarised as:


  1. Rivers of high hydromorphological status under the EC Water Framework Directive (WFD).
  2. Headwaters.
  3. Occurrence of the EC Habitats Directive Annex I habitat H3260 'Water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation'.
  4. Chalk rivers, as described in the pre-existing BAP definition.
  5. Active shingle rivers.
  6. Areas or sites of Special Scientific Interest (ASSIs or SSSIs) designated for river species, riverine features or fluvial geomorphology.
  7. The presence of priority or indicator species, including: Annex II Habitats Directive species; BAP priority species; and invertebrate species which are strongly indicative of river shingle.


For a river stretch to qualify as a potential priority river, it should meet one or more of the criteria listed. Further information on the criteria is available in the published definition.


In defining and establishing the criteria a large amount of digital geographic data was collected, including digitised river networks, information on sites protected for riverine features, habitat classification datasets and priority species occurrences. This data is now available to the UK BAP community and can be used as a starting point for those looking to identify priority rivers in their area.


For more information about UK BAP priority rivers, and for links to the spreadsheet and background document, please visit the JNCC UK BAP priority habitats pages.


Contact File


Emma Durham

Biodiversity Assistant

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866845


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