Natural Heritage Designations

Ramsar sites are designated under the Convention of Wetlands of International Importance, adopted in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971 and ratified by the UK Government in 1976. There are currently 150 Contracting Parties to the Convention with 1556 wetland sites designated for inclusion in the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance. The Inner Clyde Estuary in Inverclyde is a designated RAMSAR site.

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are classified under the EC Directive on the Conservation of Wild Birds (79/409/EEC), commonly known as the Birds Directive. The Directive requires the Member States of the European Community to identify and classify the most suitable territories, in size and number, for certain rare or vulnerable species (listed in Annex I of the Directive) and for regularly occurring migratory species. SPAs are intended to safeguard the habitats of the species for which they are selected and to protect the birds from significant disturbance. The Inner Clyde Estuary and Renfrewshire Heights are designated SPAs in Inverclyde.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) represent the best of Scotland’s natural heritage. They are ‘special’ for their plants, animals or habitats, their rocks or landforms, or a combination of such natural features. Together they form a network of the best examples of natural features throughout Scotland, and support a wider network across Great Britain and the European Union. Sheilhill Glen and Glen Moss are examples of SSSIs in Inverclyde.

Local Nature Reserves (LNRs) are places with special local natural interest, set up to protect nature, and for people to enjoy and appreciate. LNRs can be all sorts of places - woodlands, wetlands, meadows or coastal sand dunes. They provide wild spaces where plants and animals, both common and rare, can thrive. They offer a natural environment, in contrast with formal open green spaces such as parks and gardens, but are still readily accessible to people. LNRs can be near city centres, on the coast, or in the countryside. Inverclyde has two LNRs, at Coves Reservoir and Wemyss Bay Woods.

Local Nature Conservation Sites (LNCS) are locally designated non-statutory sites of importance for nature conservation. They have been identified as having special nature conservation features that, while not meeting the standard for SSSIs, are nevertheless important and worthy of note.

West Renfrew Hills Local Landscape Area (LLA) The West Renfrew Hills within Inverclyde have been recognised as being of landscape value since their inclusion as a Regional Scenic Area in the 1981 Strathclyde Structure Plan. The landscape value of the area continues to be recognised through its description as a Local Landscape Area in the Local Development Plan. The features of the area are described in the West Renfrew Hills Local Landscape Area Statement of Importance.