Site Specific Conservation Objectives (SSCO) have recently been published by the NPWS for the Lough Corrib Special Area of Conservation (SAC) (Site Code: 000297).
The site specific targets presented in the Lough Corrib SSCO are based on best scientific knowledge and have been designed with a view to ensuring the Qualifying Interests (i.e. listed habitats and species of the SAC) achieve “favourable status” thus ensuring the survival across their natural range in Europe.
As per the SSCO, the favourable conservation status of a habitat is achieved when:
- its natural range, and area it covers within that range, are stable or increasing, and
- the specific structure and functions which are necessary for its long-term maintenance exist and are likely to continue to exist for the foreseeable future, and
- the conservation status of its typical species is favourable.
The favourable conservation status of a species is achieved when:
- population dynamics data on the species concerned indicate that it is maintaining itself on a long-term basis as a viable component of its natural habitats, and
- the natural range of the species is neither being reduced nor is likely to be reduced for the foreseeable future, and
- there is, and will probably continue to be, a sufficiently large habitat to maintain its populations on a long-term basis.
SSCO documents identify site specific targets and attributes which are tailored to the conservation of the Qualifying Interests of a European designated site.
Maps showing the known/probable extent of Qualifying Interests in Lough Corrib SAC are included within the Lough Corrib SSCO. However a caveat remains in that the maps do not necessarily show the entire extent of the habitats and species for which the site is listed. Therefore accurately scoped field assessment will remain the most reliable way of determining whether Qualifying Interests of the SAC are present within the zone of influence of developments.
The SSCO should be read in conjunction with relevant supporting documents cited, particularly where instructed in the targets or notes for a particular attribute.
The overall aim of the Habitats Directive is to maintain or restore the favourable conservation status of habitats and species of community interest. Therefore it is important that Appropriate Assessments are based on, and cite, current conservation objectives and rely on best scientific knowledge to ensure the continued preservation of habitats and species of ecological significance across Europe.
The Lough Corrib SSCO can be found here
SSCO’s for other designated sites can be found here