Norfolk is fortunate in its wealth of habitats and plant and animal species.
Wetland, heathland, coastal, ancient woodland and grassland habitats are all well represented within Norfolk. Coastal and wetland habitats are of particular importance and interest.
Through the establishment of a system of protected and designated sites, the UK ensures its responsibility to national and international conservation of species, habitats and geodiversity features. The statutory basis for which is provided by various pieces of national legislation; in particular, the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
The internationally designated sites within the UK are represented by the wetlands of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention, known as Ramsar sites; alongside the European designations known as Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC), established under the EC Birds Directive and Habitats Directive respectively, which together form the Natura 2000 network. Currently there are 8 Ramsar sites (22,767ha), 12 (27,381ha) Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and 9 (51,071ha) Special Protection Areas (SPA), either within or that intersect the Norfolk boundary.