Marine Protected Areas & Wildlife

Seahorse © Andrew Pearson

At the heart of healthy and productive seas lies the creation of a network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

MPAs are sites in which human activities are restricted to varying degrees. They are a tried and tested means of safeguarding important habitats and wildlife. MPAs protect the wildlife within their boundaries and allow nature to recover and thrive.

In many cases, MPAs have an influence beyond their boundaries too, as burgeoning wildlife populations spill out into the surrounding sea. Carefully designed and well managed networks of MPAs bring even greater benefits.

Marine Protected Areas are the heart of marine nature conservation

Networks can boost the health of the marine environment as a whole, helping it recover from past impacts and enabling it to sustain current pressures.

To achieve this, MPA networks must include not just sites that protect rare and threatened wildlife, but also those that protect examples of the whole range of ‘typical’ habitats and wildlife found in healthy seas.

MPAs are the heart of marine nature conservation and essential for the sustainable management of the UK’s marine area. That is why The Wildlife Trusts regard MPAs as the bedrock of Living Seas. 

There are a number of different sites which make up a network of MPAs.

European Marine Sites are designated for habitats and species of importance at a European Level.  Across the UK, each country will also designate their own national sites. Why not find out more about the process to create Marine Conservation Zones in England and Wales and about our Living Seas campaigns for greater marine protection in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

In conjunction with the Sea Bed User and Developer Group, Marine Conservation Society, RSPB and WWF, we have produced a joint statement, addressing our shared vision for marine conservation in the UK. To read our statement click here.