There is significant effort underway throughout the region to conserve our biodiversity. However, major challenges lie ahead in order to stop further losses, re-establish lost wildlife and enable it to adapt to the pressures of climate change.
The South West Nature Map shows the most appropriate areas to maintain and expand (through restoration and/or re-creation) terrestrial wildlife habitats at a landscape scale. It is important to stress that land outside the Nature Map areas also contain wildlife sites and species that are important in their own right. There are many different tools and mechanisms in place that contribute to their conservation.
Birds are considered to be a good indicator of the broad state of wildlife and countryside because they inhabit a wide range of habitats, tend to be near the top of the food chain, are popular and have long time series of data. The UK Index of wild bird populations is one of the Government's headline indicators for sustainable development. Surveys of bird populations are carried out by Defra, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO).
Fish are good indicators of the health of the fresh and salt water environment. The volume of sea fish landed in South West fishing ports can be used as a measure of the state of fish stocks. Salmon need a certain type of habitat and good water quality to support breeding and maintain stocks. The number of salmon and coarse fish caught by anglers reflects both the abundance and diversity of fish species and the performance of fisheries.
Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are nationally important nature conservation sites. They support England's best wildlife and geology and include many of our most spectacular natural assets. Public Service Agreements (PSA) were first introduced to modernise and improve the Government's performance on the issues that matter most to the public (including health, crime, education and the environment). Ambitious and publicly accountable targets have been set, one of which is to bring 95% of all nationally important wildlife sites (SSSIs) into favourable condition by 2010.