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Centre for

Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology

From the shoreline to the deep ocean, tackling issues from pure ecology
and physiology to aquaculture, marine spatial planning and conservation.

National Ecosystem Assessment

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) was the first analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and continuing economic prosperity. Part of the Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) initiative, the UK NEA commenced in mid-2009 and reported in June 2011. It was an inclusive process involving many government, academic, NGO and private sector institutions. CMBB's Bill Sanderson contributed to the Wales section of the report which can be viewed here.

Key Findings

  • Front-cover Synthesis Final for webThe annual value of wildlife-based activity to the Welsh economy was estimated as £1.9 billion in 2007 (2.9% of Wales’s national output and 3% of employment).
  • There have been significant changes to biodiversity in Wales over the past 70 years, with some species thriving or recovering from earlier losses, while others have contracted in numbers.
  • Key seabird species have increased during the past 30 years.
  • In common with other countries in Europe, Wales failed to meet its international biodiversity targets in 2010.
  • 54% of Biodiversity Action Plan species were assessed as being in ‘unfavourable condition’ in 2008, but with considerable variation between species groups.
  • 80% of marine mammals and birds were in favourable or recovering condition, while 80% of amphibians, butterflies and fish were recorded as being in unfavourable condition.
  • Priority habitats classed as stable or improving increased from 30% in 2002 to 36% in 2008.
  • Sand Dunes, Saltmarsh and Sea Cliffs are the most extensive coastal habitats in Wales and are important for a range of regulating services, including coastal erosion protection.
  • Since 1900, there have been considerable losses of Sand Dune areas to agricultural land claim, forestry and development for housing and tourism.
  • 23% of the Welsh coastline is eroding and 28% has some form of artificial sea defence works.
  • In 2007, the sea defence services of Sand Dunes were calculated to be worth between £53 and £199 million in Wales.
  • Seven in every eight hectares of European designated Natura 2000 sites in Wales (0.5 million ha) are Marine areas, reflecting their high importance for conservation. However, 60% of these sites have been classified as being in ‘continued or accelerated decline’.