England’s varied marine environment, its ecosystems, geodiversity and landscapes, provides people with a wide range of benefits, upon which human wellbeing depends. These benefits include thriving wildlife, cultural and spiritual enrichment, food, clean water and air, and reduced risks from environmental hazards, such as flooding and drought.
Seagrass and maerl are unique ecosystems which provide a suite of benefits including carbon sequestration, enhancing water quality and the provision of nursery habitat for commercial fish species.
Using Natural England’s natural capital indicators, these documents map the state of the seagrass and maerl and the ecosystem services they provide within five Special Areas of Conservation. Habitat suitability data illustrates the potential area of seagrass distribution if pressures were removed or reduced, and data from previous seagrass studies illustrates the potential for increased ecosystem services within these areas.
By applying a natural capital approach to better understand the links between healthy seagrass and maerl habitats and the ecosystem services they provide, we hope to increase public awareness of the importance of these habitats and their wider environmental, societal and economic benefits.