Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 8:20 AM


HART, Malcolm Barrie, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Plymouth University, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, United Kingdom and SMART, Christopher W., School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Plymouth, Drake Circus, Plymouth, PL4 8AA, United Kingdom,

The United Kingdom has, since ‘The National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act’ (1949 and subsequent revisions in 1968, 1973, 1981 and 2006), developed a robust system of biological, geological and geomorphological conservation legislation. This gives designated sites both protection – where necessary – and conservation measures to facilitate research on the identified features of interest. EU legislation extended these powers into marine and estuarine environments with the designation of Special Protection Areas (SPA) and Special Areas of Conservation (SAC). The UK is also, as a result of ‘The Marine and Coastal Access Act’ (2009), planning to designate 100+ Marine Conservation Zones (MCZ) in both in-shore and off-shore waters.

The Tor Bay sea grass (Zostera marina) meadows, with their distinctive assemblages of foraminifera, ostracods, cuttlefish and sea-horses are an important candidate-MCZ in S.W. England as they represent a very high percentage of this habitat in England. These meadows contain a large number of epiphytal Elphidium crispum that, in summer, are found attached to the fronds.

The Helford River and Fal Estuary SAC in Cornwall is important for beds of living red algae (Lithothamnion corallioides and Phymatolithon calcareum) which is locally known as maërl. Living in this fragile community are diverse assemblages of foraminifera and other benthos. Maërl beds provide an important habitat that is rare in the UK and Northern France, including the Baie du Mont-St-Michel. Fossil maërl beds are also known in the Holocene sediments of Brittany and near the island of Jersey. These fossil occurrences, 2000–3000 years B.P., also contain diverse assemblages of foraminifera and demonstrate the continuity of this benthic ecosystem.