Isles of Scilly - A Protected Landscape

A Protected Landscape 

The Isles of Scilly are a group of approximately 200 low-lying granite islands and rocks that cover approximately 1600ha. Their distinctive character is recognised in the designation of the entire island group as a Conservation Area, Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), National Landscape and a Heritage Coast. The islands are also home to RAMSAR (sites are of international importance designated under the Ramsar Convention) and Special Protection Area (EU Birds Directive) wetlands sites, 27 Sites of Special Scientific Interest, 238 Scheduled Ancient Monuments as well as 130 Listed Buildings. The Islands are also a marine haven for various species and habitats and the encompassing Marine Protected Areas are also designated as a Special Area of Conservation (EU Habitats Directive) and the areas around the islands are proposed for protection as Marine Conservation Zones. The Islands are encircled by a 50m depth contour which comes to within a few hundred metres of the shore along much of the north, east and south coasts, suggesting a steep slope into deep water at many locations. The Western Rocks, Annet, St. Agnes and the rocks and islands west of Bryher are separated from the rest of the archipelago by depths in excess of 10m. In comparison, St. Mary’s is separated from Bryher, Samson, Tresco and St. Martin’s by depths of less than one metre in places, with extensive tidal flats at low tides joining the latter four islands.

The Isles of Scilly also lies within a European Marine Site. This site is designated under Article 4(4) of the Directive (92/43/EEC) as it hosts the following habitats listed below:

•    Sandbanks that are slightly covered by sea water all the time (subtidal sandbanks)
•    Intertidal mudflats and sandflats not covered by seawater at low tide (intertidal mudflats and sandflats)
•    Reef (post moderation feature)

The chart below shows:
•    Sites of Special Scientific Interest
•    Special Protected Area / RAMSAR
•    Isles of Scilly Marine Special Area of Conservation
•    Marine Conservation Zones
•    Special Area of Conservation

The National Landscapes designation recognises that people are an important part of the landscape, ensuring that its resources are protected, managed and capable of evolving in a sustainable way. Indeed landscape conservation and economic prosperity are inseparably tied in Scilly.

You can read more about the Isles of Scilly National Landscapes Partnership at their website.

If you would like to contact the Isles of Scilly National Landscapes, please email

Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme 

A new Farming in Protected Landscapes programme is being launched nationally by Defra, which will provide funding to help farmers and other land managers in England based in National Parks or NAtional Landscapes to make improvements to the natural environment and improve public access on their land- the next step in the Government's landmark plans for a renewed agriculture sector outside of the Common Agricultural Policy. The funding will go towards one-off projects to support nature recovery; improve public access; mitigate the impacts of climate change; provide opportunities for people to enjoy and understand the landscape; and support nature-friendly and sustainable farm businesses.

Projects could include creating habitats to support a variety of wildlife; providing new or easier public access opportunities, conserving historic features on a farm; or even action to reduce carbon emissions or use of plastics on farms. 

The Isles of Scilly National Landscapes Partnership is working with the host authority, the Council of the Isles of Scilly, to put together the funding programme for Scilly, including development of a local assessment panel. More details will be released shortly. In the meantime please email if you have any queries.