Many categories of site have been identified for their environmental importance at the local, national or global levels. A variety of different organisations are responsible for identifying these sites. LERN has a key role in respect of the following sites:

Local Sites:

Other important designations are listed below. LERN holds boundaries and records relating to these sites in Lancashire .

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

There are two AONBs in Lancashire : The Forest of Bowland and Arnside/Silverdale.

Limestone Pavement Orders

Limestone pavements are level outcrops of exposed rock where the surface has been dissolved by water over millions of years so that it resembles artificial paving blocks. As well as their geological interest they provide a unique habitat for a number of rare and unusual plants.

Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981) areas of limestone pavement may be subject to Limestone Pavement Orders to protect their special interest. LPOs may be made by the local planning authority (Lancashire County Council) or the Secretary of State.

Once an LPO is in place, removal or disturbance of rock becomes a criminal offence, even if the rock is loose. Anyone taking pavement from a designated site can be prosecuted and fined. Limestone pavement is also listed as a priority habitat type on Annex I of the EC Habitats Directive.

There are 12 LPOs in Lancashire; all are also the subject of other conservation designations (SSSI BHS etc.).   

There are publicly accessible areas of limestone pavement at several locations within the Arnside Silverdale AONB including Warton Crag nature reserve, Gaitbarrows NNR and the National Trust's Eaves Wood.

Local Nature Reserves (LNR)

LNRs are for both people and wildlife. They offer people special opportunities to study or learn about nature or simply to enjoy it. Parish, district and county councils have powers to acquire, declare and manage LNRs.

There are 30 LNRs in Lancashire.

National Nature Reserves (NNR)

NNRs are managed for the benefit of wildlife and provide the opportunity to the public, schools and specialists to experience and study some of England's most pristine habitats, rarest species and our most significant geology. 

Two NNRs lie in Lancashire: Gait Barrows and Ribble Estuary.

Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) 

MCZs will protect nationally important marine wildlife, habitats, geology and geomorphology. The Marine Conservation Zone Project is under way and will identify MCZs in inshore and offshore waters. Sites will be selected to protect not just the rare and threatened, but the range of marine wildlife.

Marine Protected Areas (MPA)

Marine Protected Areas are zones of the seas and coasts where wildlife is protected from damage and disturbance through designation as a SSSI, SPA, SAC, MCZ etc.

Ramsar Sites

Ramsar sites are wetlands recognised as being of international importance (They are named after the town in Iran where the agreement was signed).

All or parts of four Ramsar sites lie in Lancashire.

Register of Parks and Gardens

The Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of special historic interest in England identifies nationally important designed gardens, grounds and other planned open spaces, such as town squares public parks and cemeteries.

In Lancashire there are 36 sites on The Register. A searchable database of sites is available at Parks and Gardens UK.

Sites of Special Scientific Interest  

The national network of SSSIs forms a representative suite of the country's very best wildlife and geographical sites. The legislation behind SSSIs gives Natural England powers to ensure better protection and management of the sites and safeguard their existence into the future.

All or parts of 72 SSSIs lie in Lancashire.

Special Areas of Conservation (SACs)  

SACs provide increased protection to a variety of wild animals, plants and habitats and are a vital part of global efforts to conserve the world's biodiversity. SACs form part of the network of protected wildlife areas (known as Natura 2000) across the European Union. 
All or parts of five SACs lie in Lancashire.

Special Protection Areas (SPAs)  

SPAs are areas which have been identified as being of international importance for the breeding, feeding, wintering or the migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds in Europe. SPAs form part of the network of protected wildlife areas (known as Natura 2000) across the European Union. 
All or parts of four SPAs lie in Lancashire.