‘Functionally linked land’ (FLL) is a term often used to describe areas of land or sea occurring outside a designated site which is considered to be critical to, or necessary for, the ecological or behavioural functions in a relevant season of a qualifying feature for which a Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)/ Special Protection Area (SPA)/ Ramsar site has been designated. These habitats are frequently used by SPA species and supports the functionality and integrity of the designated sites for these features.
There is a requirement for competent authorities to consider the importance of functionally linked habitats in Habitats Regulation Assessments (HRAs) when assessing new plans or projects to ensure the Conservation Objectives for the site can still be delivered. The impact of the loss of functionally linked land on European sites can be difficult to determine as there is often limited information available.
This project has been commissioned to map potential areas of Functionally Linked Land used by water birds in the North West. The aim of this project is to collate evidence from existing bird records to create maps showing important supporting habitats and improve understanding of which bird species are using these sites. This report will help to ensure the current geographical spread of supporting habitats across the north west are maintained and enhanced to ensure the integrity of the SPA sites are protected in the long term.
Bowland Ecology has undertaken this project in partnership with Natural England.