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Protected sites

Some sites have a special interest and are therefore designated to protect this. At the end February 2014, 21 Areas of Special Scientific Interest were designated in the Isle of Man, one of which is also a National Nature Reserve. There are also 5 Bird Sanctuaries and an Area of Special Protection for Birds. Marine Nature Reserves can also be designated. There is a Wetland of International Importance designated under the Ramsar Convention, at Ballaugh Curragh. This recognises its internationally important character, though its protection relies on its designation as an Area of Special Scientific Interest, which follows the same boundary. Other organisations also protect sites for wildlife, such as Manx National Heritage and the Manx Wildlife Trust.

Areas of Special Scientific Interest

Areas with a special fauna, flora, or geological or physiographical features in the context of the Isle of Man, may be designated as Areas of Special Scientific Interest. This can cover land above or within the intertidal areas but not subtidal sites. It sets up a procedure which is clearly laid out in the Wildlife Act, and by which land owners or occupiers consult the department before taking actions that could affect the interest of a site. The department then considers whether to provide consent or offer a management agreement. Most proposals result in agreed conditions covering aspects such as timing or methods. See downloadable documents for a leaflet for landowners, with advice on ASSI issues. For a landowner/occupier notice form please see the wildlife licencing page.

Sites are selected using the guidelines (see downloadable documents). There are 2 volumes: the general guidelines are in Volume 1 and the specific habitat and species criteria developed for the Isle of Man are in Volume 2. The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture has consulted with its scientific advisors on Wildlife Act matters, the Wildlife Committee, before agreeing these criteria. As noted in the introduction to the document: 'The purpose of the ASSI system is to safeguard a series of sites which are individually of high natural heritage importance and which collectively represent the diversity of habitats, species and geological and geomorphological features on the Isle of Man. The aim of the criteria is to provide a logical and consistent basis for site selection, using recognised nature conservation principles. The criteria also enable Manx sites to be placed in a wider context, so that internationally threatened and vulnerable biodiversity, for which the Island has a shared responsibility, can be taken into account. For intertidal habitats the UK guidelines have been adopted by the Department. The guidelines can be viewed on the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website. Other documents may be posted on the right for public viewing at relevant times.

These are areas that were designated under the Wild Birds Protection Act 1932 and they remain in force.

Areas of Special Protection

Areas of Special Protection can be designated for birds, other animals or plants, with the landowner's consent. There is currently 1 bird site. This provides protection for new bird sanctuaries now that the Wild Birds Acts have been repealed (though previously designated suites remain in force).

Marine Nature Reserves

Areas may be designated as Marine Nature Reserves to conserve their marine flora, fauna, or geological or physiographic features, or to provide special opportunities for the study of matters relating to these interests. Such areas can then be managed for those purposes and byelaws introduced. Further information on the Manx Marine Nature Reserve Project is available (see Related Links).

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