Mapping the UK's seabed habitats


The extent of UK seas is vast – around 85,800,000 hectares – meaning our knowledge of marine habitats is sparse, especially in the far reaches, where the water is up to 3,000 metres deep. Work is ongoing in JNCC and the other statutory nature conservation bodies and research organisations to survey the seabed and produce detailed habitat maps; however, currently high-quality habitat maps from surveys are only available for less than ten percent of the UK seabed.


Through the combination of geological, physical and hydrographic datasets describing the physical marine environment and information from biological sampling to validate boundaries, the UKSeaMap 2010 project has developed a broad-scale predictive map of seabed habitats, and for the first time, a full-coverage confidence map has been produced which takes into account confidence in boundaries and the quality of the data.


UKSeaMap 2010 graphic © JNCC










UKSeaMap 2010 builds upon the success of UKSeaMap 2006 to produce the first maps of marine landscapes for UK waters (Nature News 14: “The key to our blue and pleasant land”) and the first predictive map of seabed habitats across northwest Europe developed by the MESH (Mapping European Seabed Habitats) project in 2008. UKSeaMap 2010 is funded by remaining funds from these two projects, which were contributed by: JNCC, Defra, Scottish Government, Department for Energy and Climate Change (formerly Department of Trade and Industry), The Crown Estate, Countryside Council for Wales, Natural England (formerly English Nature), WWF-UK, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the INTERREG III B Community Initiative (the latter as part of the MESH project).


The purpose of the UKSeaMap 2010 products is to provide a national and regional perspective on the distribution and extent of seabed habitats to support planning, management and policy development. Specific applications include:



The UKSeaMap 2010 project report was released in September 2011 and accompanies an online interactive map, which displays datasets generated by the project.


Contact File


Helen Ellwood

Marine Mapping Scientist

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866931


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