County Wildlife Sites

Also Known as Local 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.

To find out more about County Wildlife Site Criteria, click here.

National Accreditation for DBRC’s Survey Team

Devon Biodiversity Records Centres two Survey Officers Phil Sansum and Alex Worsley, recently underwent the nationally recognised Field Identification Skills Certificate (FISC) test, which is designed to determine your botanical skill level on a scale from 1 to 5, with 6 being awarded in only exceptional cases. This test is now established as the industry standard for assessing botanical survey skills across the private, statutory and conservation sectors.

The aim of the FISC is to measure your skills in real-life situations, testing your long-term botanical ability on a wide range of plants, not your short-term memory. Both were awarded level 5, which is the standard required to deliver professional plant ID courses to other professionals. DBRC runs one of the largest habitat monitoring schemes in the country, and offers survey training to ecological consultants and individuals from other conservation organisations. Considering their role in the county, manager Ian Egerton was pleased to see Alex, one of DBRCs former trainees, be recognised at such a high level. Which is testament to his hard work, dedication and passion for botany, and with Phil missing level 6 by only a few points, DBRC continue to promote high standards of in field survey within Devon.

Biodiversity Monitoring Framework

Principle funders: Devon Wildlife Trust and Devon County Council

The Biodiversity Monitoring Framework (BMF) is one of the largest habitat monitoring projects in the UK.  It is a complex project with an overall aim of finding out how the wildlife of Devon is faring. The main part of the project involves surveying a number of existing County Wildlife Sites (CWS) following a specific methodology each year.  The information gathered helps to monitor the quality of individual CWS over time but to also determine patterns of change in habitats across the county as a whole. 

This project has been running since 2009 and during the first five years, approximately 500 CWS were surveyed as a part of the BMF project. Many of these sites had not been surveyed since the early 1990s.  DBRC carry out the majority of the surveys but a number have been carried out by partner organisations such as Devon Wildlife Trust’s Working Wetlands team and Dartmoor National Park Authority.

Following the survey, landowners are given a report for their CWS providing detailed information on the habitats present and recommended management advice tailored specifically to their site.  We can also forward landowners to sources of further advice and/or funding.

All of the information gathered is fed into annual reports, compiled by Devon County Council, which review trends in Devon’s natural environment.

For more information about the BMF project please contact us at