Report 432
The identification of the main characteristics of stony reef habitats under the Habitats Directive
Irving, R
Council Directive 92/43/EEC on the Conservation of Natural Habitats and of Wild Fauna and Flora (commonly known as the Habitats Directive) is a European agreement that sets out a number of actions to be taken for nature conservation. This includes the requirement that Member States designate Special Areas of Conservation (SACs) that support certain habitats and species. A series of marine SACs have already been designated around the coast of the United Kingdom as a contribution to the Natura 2000 network. JNCC and the Country Conservation Agencies are now working towards the identification of a second tranche of SACs ‘away from the coast’ (both within territorial waters and offshore waters).



Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) invited representatives from a range of organisations with an interest in stony reefs to a workshop in Peterborough on 26 and 27 March 2008. The main focus of the workshop was to clarify the definition of ‘stony reef’ under the Habitats Directive and to help with recognising those areas of the seabed which can be classed as stony reef, and those areas which would fall outside this definition.


A number of presentations were made featuring examples of stony reefs, some of which had already been listed as features within Special Areas of Conservation (SACs). These ranged from offshore, deep sea areas such as the Wyville Thomson Ridge off NW Scotland, to nearshore, shallow areas such as an extensive cobble area off the Yorkshire coast. The methods to detect these reefs were similar and included various acoustic techniques (such as multibeam surveys and side-scan sonar), drop and towed video, still photography and grab sampling.


Consideration was given to various parameters associated with stony reefs in an attempt to determine which were considered the most important for reef identification.



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ISSN 0963 8091
Please cite as: Irving, R, (2009), The identification of the main characteristics of stony reef habitats under the Habitats Directive, JNCC Report 432, ISSN 0963 8091