What is a Section 41 or BAP habitat or species?

Planners and local plans sometimes refer to Section 41 habitat or species, often interchanging with Biodiversity Action Plans or “Habitats and species of principal importance in England”. What are they referring to ?

The term refers to the Natural Environment and Rural Communities (NERC) Act , which came into force on 1st Oct 2006. In Section 41 (S41), the Secretary of State is obliged to publish “a list of habitats and species which are of principal importance for the conservation of biodiversity in England”.  The list is drawn up working with Natural England, as required by the Act.

This S41 list guides decision-makers such as councils and statutory undertakers, as to their duty under Section 40 of the NERC Act, to “have regard to the conservation of biodiversity in England” in day-to-day decisions.

Things change and as per Section 41(4) the Secretary of State working with Natural England keeps the list under review and revises it if necessary.

Habitats of principal importance

There are 56 “habitats of principal importance” on the S41 list. These are the habitats in England identified in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP in old money) which continued to be priorities in the new UK Post-2010 Biodiversity Framework.

The list includes terrestrial habitats e.g. upland hay meadows and lowland mixed deciduous woodland, and freshwater e.g. ponds and marine habitats e.g. subtidal sands and gravels.  Some of these are broad; some very specific.

Species of principal importance

There are 943 species of principal importance included on the S41 list ( indeed ), again those from the UK BAP, which continued to priorities after the 2010 review.

Links to download lists

The following is the full list for the Section 41: Habitats of Principal Importance in England. Ones not present in Norfolk are struck through. Broad habitat type is followed by the habitat name.

    • Arable and horticulture      Arable field margins
    • Arable and horticulture     Traditional orchards
    • Boundary     Hedgerows
    • Coastal     Coastal saltmarsh
    • Coastal     Coastal sand dunes
    • Coastal     Coastal vegetated shingle
    • Coastal     Intertidal mudflats
    • Coastal     Maritime cliff and slopes
    • Coastal     Saline lagoons
    • Freshwater     Aquifer-fed naturally fluctuating water bodies
    • Freshwater     Eutrophic standing waters
    • Freshwater     Mesotrophic lakes
    • Freshwater     Oligotrophic and dystrophic lakes
    • Freshwater     Ponds
    • Freshwater     Rivers
    • Grassland    Lowland calcareous grassland
    • Grassland     Lowland dry acid grassland
    • Grassland     Lowland meadows
    • Grassland     Purple moor-grass and rush pastures
    • Grassland     Upland calcareous grassland
    • Grassland     Upland hay meadows
    • Heathland     Lowland heathland
    • Heathland     Mountain heaths and willow scrub
    • Heathland     Upland heathland
    • Inland rock     Calaminarian grasslands
    • Inland rock     Inland rock outcrop and scree habitats
    • Inland rock     Limestone pavements
    • Inland rock     Open mosaic habitats on previously developed land
    • Marine     Blue mussel beds
    • Marine     Estuarine rocky habitats
    • Marine     Fragile sponge and anthozoan communities on subtidal rocky habitats
    • Marine     Horse mussel beds
    • Marine     Intertidal boulder communities
    • Marine     Intertidal chalk
    • Marine     Maërl beds
    • Marine     Mud habitats in deep water
    • Marine     Peat and clay exposures
    • Marine     Sabellaria alveolata reefs
    • Marine     Sabellaria spinulosa reefs
    • Marine     Seagrass beds
    • Marine     Sheltered muddy gravels
    • Marine     Subtidal chalk
    • Marine     Subtidal sands and gravels
    • Marine     Tide-swept channels
    • Wetland     Blanket bog
    • Wetland     Coastal and floodplain grazing marsh
    • Wetland     Lowland fens
    • Wetland     Lowland raised bog
    • Wetland     Reedbeds
    • Wetland     Upland flushes, fens and swamps
    • Woodland     Lowland beech and yew woodland
    • Woodland     Lowland mixed deciduous woodland
    • Woodland     Upland mixed ashwoods
    • Woodland     Upland oakwood
    • Woodland     Wet woodland
    • Woodland     Wood-pasture and parkland


There is still a Norfolk BAP list for 22 habitats, which is not quite identical to the above, but the list for Habitat Action Plans ( with links ) :



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