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County Wildlife Sites

There are approximately 2,200 County Wildlife Sites (CWS) across Devon comprising a range of habitats and species.  Unlike Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), CWS are not legally protected but comprise a network of non-statutory wildlife sites. Some CWS, however, can be of similar ecological quality to SSSIs.


DBRC_CWS_Leaflet_2018_smallCWS make up nearly 30,000 hectares, approximately 4% of Devon and have been designated due to the presence of particular habitats and species such as traditionally managed species-rich lowland meadows, upland oak woodlands, lowland fens and mires (such as culm grassland).  Some sites have been designated due to the presence of particular species such as cirl bunting, bastard balm and great crested newt.

CWS are designated using a strict set of criteria and each site is assessed against these criteria by a panel of experts.  Download the CWS criteria

CWS in Devon were initially surveyed and subsequently designated in the early 1990’s to create information on the network of wildlife-rich habitats in the county.  New CWS have been designated since this time helping to develop the huge amount of data we hold on CWS today. 

The Biodiversity Monitoring Framework (BMF) project has been in operation since 2009 and as a part of this project we survey approximately 80 existing CWS per year. 

For more information about CWS please contact us at

Land Owner Case Studies

Free habitat management advice sheets

We have produced the following free habitat management advice sheets. Please click on them to download the one(s) you would like.

Culm grassland
Wet woodland
Lowland mixed deciduous woodland
Lowland meadow-grazing
Lowland meadow - hay cutting
Lowland Fen

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