Common standards monitoring
Our most important wildlife is protected within sites such as Special Protection Areas and Sites of Special Scientific Interest, that are designated under European or national legislation for the presence of one or more interest features. Interest features can range from important bird populations to scarce habitat such as heathland or saltmarsh.
Statutory nature conservation agencies, such as Natural England, have a duty to secure the protection and management of designated sites. This includes preparing conservation objectives that set targets for each interest feature.
Common standards monitoring (Joint Nature Conservation Committee, 2004) is a simple and effective way to assess the condition of interest features and therefore whether conservation objectives are being met. It involves measuring and comparing the attributes of each interest feature against a target value set. If all the targets are met, the feature can be said to be in favourable condition.
The results of the monitoring allow decisions to be made about whether the current management measures have been effective and whether new measures are required. Assessments from different designated sites can also be compiled to identify priorities for action at a range of geographical scales.