The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trusts land is leased from the Duchy of Cornwall and extends to Lowest Astronomical Tide. In total this adds up to approximately 1958 ha.
The main terrestial habitats are: heathland, maritime cliff and fixed sand dunes and grassland. Wetlands with reedbeds and rush pasture also have areas of willow carr and ditches. Many of the walls or stone 'hedges' as they are known locally have a flora and fauna of their own.
The maritime habitat includes intertidal boulders, subtidal rock communities, marine sands and gravels, seagrass beds and tide swept channels.
The Isles of Scilly Wildlife Trust has a number of designations and we manage 24 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Each one is important and requires efforts from everyone to keep these sites protected and some of our sites are also designated as an Special Area of Conservation, Special Protection Area, Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) and RAMSAR reflecting the importance these areas for wildlife on an international level. The whole of the Isles of Scilly is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Special Area of Conservation
Special Area of Conservation (SACs) are designated by the European Union’s Habitats Directive.
The sites can cover marine and terrestrial areas and are chosen to help conserve important habitats and wildlife. They range from tiny bacterium, algae, lichens to flowering plants, insects, mammals and birds.
In the UK SAC's's form part of a larger European network called Natura 2000.
The Isles of Scilly SAC: Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site: Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time; Mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide; Reefs.
Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site: Shore dock Rumex rupestris.
Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection: Grey seal, Halichoerus grypus.
There is further information about the Isles of Scilly SAC at the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website.
Special Protection Areas
A Special Protection Area (SPA) is an area of land, water or sea which has been identified as being of international importance for the breeding, feeding, wintering or the migration of rare and vulnerable species of birds found within the European Union.
SPA's are European designated sites, classified under the European Wild Birds Directive which affords them enhanced protection.
In the UK SPA's form part of a larger European network called Natura 2000.
The Isles of Scilly SPA: This site supports populations of European importance of the following species: During the breeding season; Storm Petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus, 5,406 pairs representing at least 6.4% of the breeding population in Great Britain (Count as at 1999).
This site also supports populations of European importance of the following migratory species: During the breeding season; Lesser Black-backed Gull, Larus fuscus, 3,608 pairs representing at least 2.9% of the breeding Western Europe/Mediterranean/Western Africa population (Count as at 1999).
Assemblage qualification: A seabird assemblage of international importance: During the breeding season, the area regularly supports 26,616 individual seabirds (Count as at 1999) including: Great Black-backed Gull, Larus marinus, Shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Larus fuscus, Storm Petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus.
There is further information about the Isles of Scilly SPA at the Joint Nature Conservation Committee website.
Marine Conservation Zones
Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) are a type of Marine Protected Area that protect areas nationally rare or threatened habitats and/or species and those places containing habitats and/or species that are representative of the biodiversity in our seas.
The Isles of Scilly Marine Conservation Zone is made up of 11 inshore sites around the Isles of Scilly and covers 30 km2.
The 11 sites that make up the Isles of Scilly MCZ are Bishop to Crim; Bristows to the Stones; Gilstone to Gorregan; Hanjague to Deep Ledge; Higher Town; Lower Ridge to Innisvouls; Men a Vaur to White Island; Peninnis to Dry Ledge; Plympton to Spanish Ledge; Smith Sound Tide Swept Channel and Tean.
The MCZ spans a range of physical conditions and depth of seabed, from Mean high water mark to 70m, and supports an exceptionally high diversity of habitats and species.
You can download a fact sheet about this Marine Conservation Zone from the Natural England website.
There is further information about this MCZ on the Isles of Scilly IFCA website.
The Isles of Scilly RAMSAR site consists of many small uninhabited islands but is also partly within several inhabited islands. Habitats include coastal cliffs, boulder beaches, heathland and some dune grassland.
Qualifying Species/populations: Species regularly supported during the breeding season: European storm-petrel, Hydrobates pelagicus, occupied sites, represent an average of 0.2% of the GB population according to the Seabird 2000 Census. Lesser black-backed gull, Larus fuscus graellsii, represent an average of 2.4% of the breeding population (Seabird 2000 Census)
Other important species include: European shag, Phalacrocorax aristotelis, occupied nests, represent an average of 1.3% of the breeding population
(Seabird 2000 Census)
Noteworthy flora includes: species occurring at levels of international importance include Shore dock, heathland habitat which in turn supports orange birds foots and the dwarf pansy.
Noteworthy fauna includes: species currently occurring at levels of national importance and species regularly supported during the breeding season:
Great black-backed gull, Larus marinus, our breeding population represents an average of 4.5% of the GB population (Seabird 2000 Census).
For further information about this RAMSAR visit the RAMSAR website.