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The Lee Valley Regional Park is a mixture of old and new habitats all of which result in some degree from human intervention. This intervention and mosaic of wetland habitats has created many opportunities for wildlife, where across the UK wetland habitat is increasingly under threat.


To ensure the sustainable use of the Regional Park a framework of objectives called the Biodiversity Action Plan has been produced. This highlights key habitats and species and drives conservation work through specific targets.

The parks has many areas of land under statutory protection of:

  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

  • Special Protection Areas (SPAs)

  • Ramsar

  • Non-stat designation


Information on all of the statutory protected sites (SSSI, Ramsar and SPA sites) can be found on the Natural England websiteThe day to day management of the open spaces and wildlife sites is carried out by the Ranger Service.

Grey Heron

Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)

SSSIs are a national selection of sites providing statutory protection for the best examples of the UK's flora, fauna, or geological or physiographical features. These sites are also used to support other national and international nature conservation designations such as Special Protection Areas (SPAs).


SSSIs are notified under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.  Improved provisions for the protection and management of SSSIs were introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (in England and Wales).

There are eight SSSIs in the Lee Valley Regional Park:

  • Amwell Quarry SSSI

  • Rye Meads SSSI

  • Turnford and Cheshunt Pits SSSI

  • Cornmill Stream and the Old River Lea SSSI

  • Waltham Abbey SSSI

  • Chingford Reservoirs SSSI

  • Walthamstow Reservoirs SSSI

  • Walthamstow Marshes SSSI


Special Protection

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites classified in accordance with Article 4 of the EC Directive on the conservation of wild birds (79/409/EEC), also known as the Birds Directive. They are classified for rare and vulnerable birds, listed in Annex I of the Birds Directive and for regularly occurring migratory species.


The Lee Valley SPA is designated for internationally important numbers of breeding and wintering wildfowl, especially Gadwall and Shoveler and for wintering Bittern.


Special Protection Areas within Lee Valley Regional Park include Amwell Quarry, Rye Meads, Turnford and Cheshunt Pits and Walthamstow Reservoirs SSSIs.

Bee Orchid
Tufted Duck

Ramsar Site

Ramsar sites are designated under the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance, agreed in Ramsar, Iran, in 1971.


Originally intended to protect sites of importance as waterfowl habitat, the Convention has broadened its scope to cover all aspects of wetland conservation and wise use. It recognises wetlands as being extremely important for biodiversity conservation in general as well as for the well being of human communities.


The Lee Valley Special Protection Area is also designated as a Ramsar site.


Non-Statutory Designation

Non-statutory sites can be considered to be of metropolitan, county or local importance and include:

CountyWildlife Sites (Essex and Hertfordshire) and Metropolitan Wildlife Sites (Greater London) are designated by the County Councils and Greater London Authority respectively following consultation with relevant conservation organisations. Local Plan policies and the Local Development Framework policies that replace them should help protect the sites by not allowing development to take place that would be damaging to them.


Sites of Nature Conservation Importance. This is a composite term for non-statutory second tier sites (below SSSIs). These generally include County and Metropolitan Wildlife Sites and can also include third tier sites such as London Borough Wildlife Sites. 

Comma Butterfly on Tottenham Marshes
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