Journal of Coastal Conservation

, Volume 19, Issue 6, pp 761–769 | Cite as

Conservation of coastal soft cliffs in England 2002–2013

  • Sue ReesEmail author
  • Jon Curson
  • Dave Evans


This paper highlights the biological and geological importance of England’s coastal soft cliff resource, and the coastal processes that sustain their conservation value. Since publication of the Maritime Cliff and Slope Habitat Action Plan in 1999 and designation of Special Areas of Conservation for the Annex I habitat ‘Vegetated sea cliffs of the Atlantic and Baltic coasts’ there has been a legal and policy obligation to conserve and enhance the quality of cliff environments, their habitats and species and their dependence on geomorphology at different scales. Although the development of strategic coastal planning in England now includes a better appreciation of coastal processes and cliff recession, tensions inevitably arise where properties and infrastructure are affected by coastal change, with soft cliffs at greatest risk of landslides and marine erosion. Rather than always using hard engineering approaches to stabilise soft cliffs, there is an increasing appreciation of the need to make use of adaptation for built assets through the planning system and working towards better understanding of the role of eroded sediment in provision of ecosystem services.


Coastal soft cliff Conservation Coastal geomorphology Biodiversity action plan Habitats directive 



Thanks to Richard Edmonds, Earth Science Manager for the Jurassic Coast Team for the background to the Lyme Regis Phase IV scheme. Thanks to all the partners and contractors that worked with Natural England on the projects described and those organisations and individuals that helped to develop and take forward the Habitat Action Plan from 1999.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Natural England, Senior Coastal Habitat Specialist EastbrookCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Natural England, Senior Specialist Entomologist Guildborne HouseWorthingUK
  3. 3.Natural England, Senior Specialist for Stratigraphy Unex HousePeterboroughUK

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