UKBAP logoUK BAP priority marine habitats and species

In response to the 1992 Convention on Biological Diversity, the UK launched the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP) in 1994. In 1995, the UK Biodiversity Steering Group established the framework and criteria for identifying species and habitat types of conservation concern  defined as priority species and habitats.
The original list of UK BAP priority species and habitats was created between 1995 and 1999. Priority marine habitats identified included Sabellaria alveolata Reefs, Saline Lagoons, Mud Habitats in Deep Water, Serpulid Reefs, and Maerl Beds. Priority marine species included native oyster (Ostrea edulis), Loch Goil Sea Squirt (Styela gelatinosa), Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus), Herring (Clupea harengus) and Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta). For these priority species and habitats, Species or Habitat Action Plans (SAPs and HAPs), grouped plans, or species statements were produced, detailing the current status of the species or habitat, factors which affect it, current actions being taken, objectives or targets, and proposed actions to be taken.
These original action plans can be found on the archived pages of the UK BAP website (SAPs and HAPs), or through the Biodiversity Action Reporting System (BARS). However, the list of priority species and habitats was revised following a review, completed in 2007, the aim of which was to ensure that the UK BAP list of priority species and habitats remained focussed on the correct priorities for action. This was the first full review of the UK BAP list, generated over 10 years before, and provided an opportunity to take into account emerging priorities, conservation successes, and the large amount of new information that had been gathered since the original list was created. 
Selection of priority species and habitats for the priority list followed consideration by expert working groups against a set of selection criteria, based on international importance, rapid decline, high risk, and habitats of importance for key species. Marine species and habitats were assessed separately from terrestrial and freshwater habitats and species. The marine UK BAP criteria were developed from the Review of Marine Nature Conservation (RMNC) and the Irish Sea Pilot (ISP).

Following the review,  the number of priority species was increased to 1150, and the number of priority habitats to 65. All of the 45 habitats from the original list were carried over into the new list of 65 priority habitats, although some names and categorisations were revised, and new habitats were added. The number of marine habitats increased from 17 to 25 details are available in the list of UK BAP priority habitats, which includes links to the descriptions of the priority habitats. Most of the species from the original list were carried over, but some were not, due to changes in status or classification criteria. The list of priority marine species increased to 87 species, 49 of which were on the original list.


Further information about the review is available in the Priority Species and Habitats Review Report (PDF, 1.3Mb), which contains the details of the selection of marine habitats and species.