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Isles of Scilly seagrass mapping
reportposted on 06.12.2017, 00:00 authored by Emma JacksonEmma Jackson, S Higgs, T Allsop, A Cawthray, J Evans, O Langmead
Under the requirements of the EU Habitats Directive the UK Government has established a series of Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) which, with Special Protection Areas, form a series known as Natura 2000 (N2K). Articles 11 and 17(1) of the Habitats Directive require that member states regularly assess the ecological condition of the designated features within the N2K series. Condition Assessment of European Marine Sites is carried out on a six yearly cycle, and it is the responsibility of Natural England to report this to Europe through the JNCC (Joint Nature Conservation Committee). One of the qualifying marine features for SAC designation is sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time. Extensive meadows of the seagrass Zostera marina are a key sub-feature of this biotope. The Isles of Scilly SAC was selected for subtidal sandbanks and Zostera meadows. The objectives of this study are to utilise aerial survey and GIS methods, along with historic information, contextual information, and ground truthing to produce an up to date, accurate, GIS based map showing the current extent of seagrass Zostera marina in the Isles of Scilly. The results will enable changes in the extent of the seagrass to be monitored and so inform the site managers as to any changes that may need to be made to the future management of the SAC. This report is being published to inform managers and to allow others to review the work, as well as to develop and adapt monitoring programmes for this and other SACs.