Important sites for wildlife

Explains Local Wildlife Sites, Local Nature Reserves, Verge Nature Reserves and other designated sites.

What are Local Wildlife Sites?

Local Wildlife Sites (LWS), or Sites of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) as they used to be known, are areas of substantive value for semi-natural habitats such as ancient woodlands, grasslands and wetlands. They can also include linear features such as hedgerows and verges and be designated for particular species. LWS are designated in accordance with objective guidelines in the ‘Local Sites in the East Riding of Yorkshire’ document.

What are Local Geological Sites?

Local Geological Sites (LGS), or Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS) as they are also known, are areas of geological importance. This might be for their educational value, their role in the development of geological science, or for their rocks, fossils or features. In the East Riding, a voluntary group of geologists known as the "East Yorkshire RIGS Group" leads the work to identify these sites.

What are Local Nature Reserves?

Local Nature Reserves (LNR) are for people and wildlife. They offer people special opportunities to study or learn about nature or to simply enjoy it. To qualify for LNR status, a site must be of importance for wildlife, geology, education or public enjoyment.

There are twelve formal LNR in the East Riding, some of which are managed by us and others that are managed by local groups or charitable trusts. The East Riding's twelve formal LNR are as follows (managed by us unless stated otherwise):

  • Eastrington Ponds
  • Humber Bridge Country Park
  • Sigglesthorne Station
  • Southorpe
  • Flamborough Outer Head
  • Danes Dyke
  • South Landing
  • Millington Wood
  • Hudson Way
  • Sugar Mill Ponds (not managed by us)
  • Howden Marsh (not managed by us)
  • Mayfield and Broom Park (not managed by us)

For a list of formal and other nature reserves owned and managed by us, and detailed descriptions of LNR, please visit the LNR page within the Countryside and Walks Section.

Our partners and local groups also own and manage other informal nature reserves.

What are Verge Nature Reserves?

Verge Nature Reserves (VNR) are particular roadside verges containing important grassland, ditch and hedgerow habitats, and providing refuges for wildflowers, animals and wildlife such as butterflies.

They have a role as wildlife or green corridors that are particularly important in terms of adaptation to climate change, allowing wildlife to move and adapt as conditions change. Some of the best VNR are also designated as Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) in recognition of their importance for biodiversity. In addition to their value for biodiversity, VNR are of historic, landscape and cultural importance.

Roadside verges are subject to a variety of threats including damage from vehicles, fly-tipping, overgrazing by tethered horses and the planting and spread of non-native, invasive species. The biggest threat, however, is a lack of management which leads to grassland being replaced by brambles and scrub such as hawthorn.

What other designated sites are there?

Many other statutory and non-statutory designations have been applied to sites in order to conserve wildlife. They are as follows:


  • Ramsar Sites (these are for wetlands)
  • Special Protection Areas (SPA) (these are for birds)
  • Special Areas for Conservation (SAC) (these are for habitats and species other than birds)


  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  • National Nature Reserves (NNR)
  • Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ)


  • Local Wildlife Sites (see above)
  • Local Nature Reserves (see above)

To see where national and international sites are located, please use the link below to access the Nature on the Map website:

Nature on the Map (external website)

There is an increasing move towards attempting to connect these sites into an ecological network where wildlife can move and adapt. This will be especially important as our climate changes.

All of the above should be considered when planning any development or other land use change.

What is the Local Sites in the East Riding of Yorkshire document?

The "Local Sites in the East Riding of Yorkshire" document sets out how the Local Wildlife Sites and Local Geological Sites system operates. We adopted the document in November 2012, and it was revised in 2023.

It is in three parts:

Part A (below) sets out how the Local Sites system will operate:

Management of the local sites system part A (pdf 454kb)

Part B (below) sets out the technical guidelines for the selection of Local Wildlife Sites:

Management of the local sites system part B LWS Site Selection Guidelines (pdf 989kb)

Part C (below) contains a set of appendices:

Management of the local sites system part C Appendices(pdf 229kb)

The document was prepared in consultation with the Local Wildlife Sites Panel and local experts.

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