The UK coastline is one of the longest in
Europe. It is also one of the most varied and dynamic, constantly
evolving and shifting over time. The coast provides a home for many
highly specialised plants and animals.
The UK coast supports a range of well-known
habitat types. Coastal saltmarsh and Coastal single
habitats occur within reach of the tides and are subject to
periodic saltwater inundation and wave action. Pioneer and salt-
and flood-tolerant species are characteristic of this environment.
Further inland, where the sea seldom reaches, Coastal sand dune,
cliff habitats occur. These areas are typically windswept, arid
and brackish. Dune areas, in particular, support highly specialised
plants. Moving inland, habitats become increasingly terrestrial
with various types of coastal grassland, heathland and scrub types
UK coastal habitats are a priority for nature
conservation. This is partly due to the variety of
specialised species associated with them, because also because of
their naturalness, fragility, scarcity and intrinsic appeal.
Accordingly, there are seventeen coastal habitat types listed under Annex I of the EU
Habitats Directive and five coastal priority habitats
listed the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.