Total extent and proportion of protected areas at sea


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Headline data

Source: Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)

Geographical Area: United Kingdom

Unit of Measurement: Million hectares / Percentage (%)

This table provides metadata for the actual indicator available from UK statistics closest to the corresponding global SDG indicator. Please note that even when the global SDG indicator is fully available from UK statistics, this table should be consulted for information on national methodology and other UK-specific metadata information.

Indicator available

Total extent and proportion of protected areas at sea

Indicator description

The extent measures are a calculation of the net (non-overlapping) extent of protected areas using mean high water as the boundary between the at-sea and on-land measures. The proportion measures are a percentage of UK marine extent contained within marine protected areas.

Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Unit of measurement

Million hectares / Percentage (%)


Data is based on calendar year of site designation. For 2019, the data cut-off is 31 May.

The boundary between protected areas on-land and at-sea is mean high water (mean high water spring in Scotland). Coastal sites in the indicator are split between ‘on-land’ and ‘at-sea’ if they cross the mean high water mark. At-sea extent includes offshore marine protected areas out to the limit of the UK continental shelf.

Extent is based on the following site designations - Areas of Special Scientific Interest, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves, Marine Conservation Zones, Nature Conservation Marine Protected Areas, Ramsar Sites, Special Areas of Conservation (including candidate Special Areas of Conservation and Sites of Community Importance), Special Protection Areas, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, National Scenic Areas, National Parks.

Many protected areas in the UK cover the same physical parcels of land, but for different reasons; as a result the designation types can overlap. For example, it is possible for an individual site to be designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA), Ramsar site and National Nature Reserve (NNR), and could also be part of a National Park, an AONB (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) or National Scenic Area (NSA).

Available disaggregations

No calculations on the source data were required. See C1. Protected Areas for more information on methodology.

Other information

This indicator is a component of UK Biodiversity Indicator C1. Protected areas which comprises two additional measures, 'Total extent of protected areas - on-land', and 'Condition of Areas / Sites of Special Scientific Interest'.

This indicator is being used as an approximation of the UN SDG Indicator. Where possible, we will work to identify or develop UK data to meet the global indicator specification. This indicator has not been identified in collaboration with topic experts.

Data last updated 21 September 2021
Metadata last updated 01 December 2021

This table provides information on metadata for SDG indicators as defined by the UN Statistical Commission. Complete global metadata is provided by the UN Statistics Division.

Indicator name

Number of countries using ecosystem-based approaches to managing marine areas

Target name

By 2020, sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems to avoid significant adverse impacts, including by strengthening their resilience, and take action for their restoration in order to achieve healthy and productive oceans

Global indicator description
UN designated tier

Tier II

UN custodian agency

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Link to UN metadata United Nations Sustainable Development Goals metadata for target 14.2 opens in a new window

Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)



Earliest available data


Geographical coverage

United Kingdom

Link to data source C1. Protected areas opens in a new window
Release date 05 September 2019
Next release


Statistical classification

Official Statistic

Contact details

Other information

Total extent of protected areas - at sea

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