The Severn Estuary is the largest example of a coastal plain estuary in the United Kingdom and one of the largest estuaries in Europe. The overall area of the European and International conservation designations is 73,715.4 ha (see Appendix 1) of which roughly two thirds is composed of subtidal habitats (stable sandbanks and shifting sediments of gravel, sand and mud) and one third is composed of intertidal habitats (tide washed mud and sand, saltmarshes and rocky shores).
The estuary lies in the broad Severn Vale, with most of the sediments on the margins of the estuary having accumulated since the last ice age. As with many other estuaries in England and Wales, it has been a focus for human activity, a location for settlement, a source of food, water and raw materials and a gateway for trading and exploration. The Estuary and its coastal hinterland support the cities of Cardiff, Bristol, Newport and Gloucester. Today, major industries are sited around the Estuary’s shores. There are modern port installations, chemical processing companies and nuclear power stations among others. Exploitation of the natural resources includes commercial shrimp fishing and fishing for salmon using putchers, lave nets, draught nets and bag nets. The Severn supports an important eel and elver fishery. Aggregate extraction also occurs within the estuary.
Alongside all these competing activities, the Estuary also supports a wide array of habitats and species of international importance for nature conservation.
For general information on Upper Severn Estuary Site of Special Scientific Interest (regardless of MPA status), click here.
Contacts & Resources
Original data record from World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) via ProtectedPlanet.net [view record on site].