Priority Sites Project

What are Priority Sites?Chartley Moss, Shropshire, a priority site for the White-faced Darter dragonfly

Priority Sites (also known as Key Sites) are identified as being important for dragonfly conservation. They are classified as either of National or Local Importance, equating to SSSI or Local Wildlife Site value respectively. Priority Sites are assessed against an agreed set of national criteria.

Priority Site Criteria

These criteria aim to identify sites important for maintaining breeding populations of nationally or locally important species, or a high diversity of species. Click on the flow chart to visualise the selection process.

Records are assessed for a recent ten-year period. The most important sites for dragonflies hold large, viable breeding populations: these are recognised as Confirmed Priority Sites. If records do not exceed the criteria, sites can be labelled as Probable or Possible Priority Sites, depending on the evidence gathered. Recorders are encouraged to 'upgrade' a site's status by obtaining more detailed information on breeding and abundance. Priority Sites are divided into Nationally Important, where the site contains an abundant breeding population of a nationally important species (see below) or Locally Important, where a site contains either an abundant breeding population of a locally important species or a high diversity of species.

BDS Proof of Breeding Criteria 

How to apply the criteria to sites

Key sites flowchart







What are the Nationally Important species?

These are Red Listed (i.e. in one of the IUCN threat categories) in the British Red Data book for dragonflies and damselflies. In addition, Small Red Damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum, though not considered to be under threat, is also included as it is Nationally Scarce, occurring in less than 100 hectads (10km x 10km squares).


The following species are regarded as nationally important:




Southern Damselfly Coenagrion mercuriale Northern Damselfly Coenagrion hastulatum
Norfolk Hawker Aeshna isosceles White-faced Darter Leucorrhinia dubia


Azure Hawker Aeshna caerulea  Brilliant Emerald Somatochlora metallica


Near Threatened

Scarce Emerald Damselfly Lestes dryas Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly Ischnura pumilio
Variable Damselfly Coenagrion pulchellum Northern Emerald Somatochlora arctica
Scarce Chaser Libellula fulva Common Club-tail Gomphus vulgatissimus

Nationally Scarce

Small Red Damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum    


What are the Locally Important species in your area?

To find out which species are Locally Important and what species diversity is required in your area, click on the appropriate area on the map. Information on how to get involved in recording dragonflies is also provided for each area.

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