Avondale Site of Special Scientific Interest
In March 1994, 1373 SSSI (Sites of Special Scientific Interest) were
established, of which Avondale is one of fourteen to be classed as
priority habitats. The Avondale SSSI being one of the foremost in the
country, covers the area of the Avon and Cander Water gorge and is
considered an outstanding example of semi-natural deciduous gorge
This area contains many rare and interesting flora including; wood
fescue (festuca altissima), broadleaved helleborine (epipactis
helleborine), hairy St.John’s wort (hypericum hisutum), alternate
leaved golden saxifrage (chrysosplenium alternifolium), two parasitic
plants, bird’s nest orchid (neottia nidus-avis) and toothwort (lathraea
squamaria), fragrant orchid (gymnadenia conopsea), greater butterfly
orchid (platanthera chlorantha), and yellow rattle (rhinanthusminor).
In 1995, the Scottish Office Department of Environment produced a
report on how to apply the Habitats Directive, which protects under
European Law “Special Areas of Conservation” (SAC). European law
adopted the Habitats Directive on the conservation of natural habitats
and of wild fauna and flora in 1992. The list of proposed designated
areas were submitted in 1995, to which areas will hopefully be
designated in the near future.
The Avondale SSSI is covered by the Clyde Valley Woods SAC. “These sites are recognised as good
examples of habitats regarded as rare, endangered or vulnerable on a
European scale. Clyde Valley Woods are an example of a mixed woodland
on alkaline soils associated with rocky slopes and is the only example
in Scotland of this type of habitat recognised by this new designation.
This type of habitat has been given the status of “priority” habitat
and there are only 14 priority habitat types in Scotland”.
Although not yet designated, these sites are to be treated as such
until each site is officially listed.
The Nature Conservancy Council state the SAC from a conservation
standpoint, constitutes probably the most important single woodland
complex therein, and its biological quality is exceptional. This is
greatly due to the areas limited management during the past century.
The Avon and Cander gorge is considered an irreplaceable area of
primary woodland of particular scientific interest as it contains a
number of plants and animals with limited powers of colonisation.
These sites are constantly under threat from the expansion of housing
and opencast mining. It is my view that these exceptional sites of
natural beauty should be protected and maintained for their natural
heritage values and preserved for the educational and recreational
awareness of our environment. The completion of the Avon walkway may
facilitate people the opportunity to access such sites of interest more
If you love the freedom of the countryside and feel inclined to
investigate our right of ways, then experience the many wonders of our
local habitat and enjoy exploring the parish and encourage in others, a
sense of curiosity and awareness of our environment.