Deben Estuary SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

This site is located on the coast of Suffolk in eastern England. It extends south-eastwards for over 12 km from the town of Woodbridge to the sea just north of Felixstowe.  It is relatively narrow and sheltered, and has limited amounts of freshwater.  The estuary is of importance for its wintering waterbirds, especially Avocets.

MPA Type

Special Protection Area

Special Protection Areas (SPAs) are strictly protected sites designated uner European legislation. They are established to protect rare and vulnerable birds and for regularly occurring migratory species.

Designation date

1 March 1996

Surface Area

9.81 km2 (3.79 mi.2)


45.77 km (28.44 mi.)

Coordinates (central point)

52° 2' 35" North, 1° 20' 54" East

  • Dark-bellied brent goose (Branta bernicla bernicla)

    A small dark goose which occurs in good numbers at just a few sites in the UK. They are vegetarian and particularly partial to seagrass.

  • Pied avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)

    A distinctively-patterned black and white wading bird with a long up-curved beak. 

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes

Did you know?…

An area over 9 times the size of Wales is now in marine protected areas in the UK, but less than 1% is considered by MCS scientists to be well managed

Over half a million people have voiced their support for ‘marine protected area’ designation in the UK through our campaigns

Over 500,000 records on undersea habitats and species have been collected by volunteer Seasearch divers providing significant evidence for inshore ‘marine protected areas’