Severn Estuary SPA

Status: Designated


Site overview

The Severn Estuary is located between Wales and England in south-west Britain. It is a large estuary, made up of mud-flats and sand-flats.  The site is really important during the spring and autumn migration periods for waders moving up the west coast of Britain, as they come to feed here. In winter this area is home to a large number of waterbirds, especially swans, ducks and waders.

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 July 1995

Surface Area

245.06 km2 (94.62 mi.2)


513.06 km (318.80 mi.)

  • Waterfowl assemblage

    Important areas where a number of waterfowl species occur in significant numbers.

  • Common redshank (Tringa totanus)

    As this bird’s name suggests, its’ most distinctive features are its’ bright orange-red legs.

  • Dunlin (Calidris alpina alpina)

    The commonest small wading bird found around UK shores with a distinctive black belly in the summer.

  • Common shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)

    This is a big, colourful duck, bigger than a mallard but smaller than a goose.

  • Gadwall (Anas strepera)

    A grey dabbling duck a little smaller than the familiar mallard.

  • Greater white-fronted goose (Anser albifrons albifrons)

    A grey goose with important wintering grounds in the UK.

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

Did you know?…

To the shelf limits, Scotland has 61% of UK waters, of which 23% are now in existing or new ‘marine protected areas’

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