Broad-scale Habitats

Marine Protected Areas Policy approach

How the habitats were derived?

Defining coastal habitats and ecosystems

The hierarchical classification scheme is divided into two major environment types:

Estuarine environments are large coastal water regions that have geographic
continuity, are bounded landward by a stretch of coastline with fresh-water input, and are bounded seaward by a salinity front

Marine environments include the saline waters of the open sea, the seabed and water column of open sea coasts

The main environmental factors which influence community structure (international and national literature) are considered to be depth, substrate, and exposure (wave action, tidal action and currents). These three key physical variables that influence coastal biodiversity have been used to identify habitat-types within the South-east Marine Area.

Depth: There are three depth categories (intertidal, shallow subtidal to 30 metres, and deeper subtidal – between the 30 and 200 metre depth contours). This broadly reflects the role of light and physical disturbance in the coastal marine environment.
Substrate: There are eight substrate categories (mud, sand, gravel, cobble, boulders, bedrock, biogenic structures and artificial). These have been defined based on their role in structuring ecological communities.
Exposure: There are three exposure categories (low, medium and high). These have
been defined based on their role in structuring intertidal and shallow subtidal
communities.

What are the habitat-types?

The different classified habitat types can be seen in the table below, taken from the Marine Protected Areas: classification, protection standard and implementation guidelines.