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The Isles of Scilly: Sustaining biodiversity

Warwick, R.M. (2014) The Isles of Scilly: Sustaining biodiversity. In: Ray, G.C. and McCormick-Ray, J., (eds.) Marine Conservation: Science, Policy and Management. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Oxford, UK, pp. 234-261.

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Abstract

Despite four thousand years of more or less continuous human occupation and dependency on marine resources, the marine environment of Scilly gives the impression of being undisturbed, natural, and biodiverse in comparison with other areas of Europe. Tourism is the main source of income, much of this falling under the broad heading of “ecotourism,” which is dependent on sustaining a high environmental quality in the face of both global (climate change) and local (e.g., agriculture and fishing) environmental pressures. Thus, the main conservation issue for the Isles of Scilly is balancing of needs for tourism and other local sources of income with the imperative of sustaining biodiversity.

The biota has a number of special features. Because of the mild climate, several species from southern Europe and the Mediterranean occur on Scilly and nowhere else in Britain. The islands have more benthic species defined as “nationally rare” and “nationally scarce” than any other locality in southwest Britain, while many species that are normally sublittoral occur on the shore. Habitat diversity within the archipelago is high, and many sites have a complex array of habitat types in a small area. Wave exposure varies from extremely exposed to very sheltered, often within short distances. It is this complex array of habitat types, wave exposure, and the associated communities that is of significant marine biological value as all these features together contribute to the high conservation importance of the islands.

These features will be used in this case study as examples that address some general issues of biodiversity and sustainability and their management, and it is these two themes of biodiversity and sustainability that constitute the focus of this chapter.

Publication Type: Book Chapter
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Ltd
Copyright: © 2014 G. Carleton Ray and Jerry McCormick-Ray
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URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/22848
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