Skip to Content

UK Overseas Territory Protected Area statistics

JNCC collates area and percent coverage statistics from the UK Overseas Territory (UKOT) Governments to demonstrate their progress in establishing Protected Areas (PAs) and Other Effective Area-based Conservation Measures (OECMs) for biodiversity conservation. These statistics inform 25 Year Environment Plan Outcome Indicator K4.

Statistics are accurate to 31 December 2023 and are presented at three spatial scales: for the UKOTs combined (Tables 1 and 2), for each Territory individually (Tables 3a and 3b), and additional statistics for a variety of within-territory scales or other breakdowns (Table 4). These statistics, and further results by broad geographic region, are also available in a downloadable spreadsheet from JNCC's Resource Hub.

JNCC Report 760 provides technical background information, including our approach to obtaining data, calculation methods and confidence in these statistics. PA extent statistics for the metropolitan UK are available in UK Biodiversity Indicator C1. More detailed statistics on the UK marine PA network are also presented on the JNCC website.

Protected Area extent statistics for the UKOTs combined

Table 1. Extent and percent coverage of Protected Areas for the UK Overseas Territories combined, as at the end of 2023.

  Area of land or sea (km2) Area of PAs and OECMs (km2) % coverage of PAs and OECMs
Terrestrial environment 17,738 4,628 26.1
Marine environment 5,748,660 4,308,679 75.0

 

Table 2. Net change in the extent and percent coverage of Protected Areas from the end of 2020 to the end of 2023, for the UK Overseas Territories combined.

 

Change in PA and OECM extent (km2),
2020–2023

Change in % coverage of PAs and OECMs,
2020–2023

Terrestrial environment +3,797 +21.4
Marine environment +687,352 +12.0

 

The PA extent statistics include 13 UKOTs (shown in the map below). British Antarctic Territory is excluded as Antarctic terrestrial and marine protection is delivered through the Antarctic Treaty System.

Schematic map of the world showing the locations of the UK Overseas Territories

Top

Protected Area extent statistics by Territory

Table 3a. Extent and percent coverage of terrestrial Protected Areas for each UK Overseas Territory, as at the end of 2023.

Overseas Territory  Area of land (km2) Area of PAs and OECMs (km2) % coverage of PAs and OECMs
Anguilla 78.8 0.4 0.5
Bermuda 53.6 2.4 4.4
British Indian Ocean Territory 50.2 19.1 37.9
British Virgin Islands 153.2 4.1 2.7
Cayman Islands 264.0 30.3 11.5
Falkland Islands 12,030.6 353.0 2.9
Gibraltar 6.6 2.4 36.4
Montserrat 102.8 11.2 10.9
Pitcairn Islands Group 51.8 42.7 82.5
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha St Helena 123.0 46.8 38.0
Ascension 96.9 18.9 19.5
Tristan da Cunha 181.1 81.4 45.0
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands 3,793.9 3,793.0 100.0
Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia 254.7 97.1 38.1
Turks and Caicos Islands 497.2 124.7 25.1

Table 3b. Extent and percent coverage of marine Protected Areas for each UK Overseas Territory, as at the end of 2023.

Overseas Territory  Area of sea (km2) Area of PAs and OECMs (km2) % coverage of PAs and OECMs
Anguilla * 83,756 71 0.1
Bermuda 464,826 < 1 < 0.01
British Indian Ocean Territory 638,110 637,847 99.96
British Virgin Islands 87,899 52 0.1
Cayman Islands * 120,921 123 0.1
Falkland Islands 455,521 0 0.0
Gibraltar 87 77 89.1
Montserrat * 6,771 0 0.0
Pitcairn Islands Group 841,995 841,995 100.0
St Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha St Helena 448,411 448,411 100.0
Ascension 445,489 445,489 100.0
Tristan da Cunha 757,646 691,009 91.2
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands 1,242,921 1,242,921 100.0
Sovereign Base Areas of Akrotiri and Dhekelia 397 32 8.2
Turks and Caicos Islands * 153,911 651 0.4

Statistics represent PA and OECM coverage across the entire extent of each UKOT’s waters, from the coast to the exclusive economic zone (or equivalent). Four UKOTs (Anguilla, Cayman Islands, Montserrat, Turks and Caicos Islands; marked '*') lack formal international maritime boundaries for parts of their waters; their approximate sea areas were calculated using median lines sourced from the UK Hydrographic Office.

Top

Within-territory marine Protected Area statistics

Table 4. Extent and percent coverage of marine Protected Areas at within-territory scales.

Protected Area policy is implemented at a range of spatial scales and involves a variety of management regimes across the UKOTs. Table 4 provides supplementary statistics on the extent and coverage of PAs and OECMs for geographic scales, management types or other breakdowns relevant to individual Territories. These have been volunteered for publication by the respective UKOT Governments and are accurate as at the end of 2023.

UK Overseas Territory Geographic breakdown and area of UKOT's waters Type of PA / OECM or management Area of marine PAs and OECMs (km2) % coverage of PAs and OECMs
British Virgin Islands Territorial Sea – 5,394 km2 All types 52 1.0
Cayman Islands

Coastal shelf (150 ft [45.7m] depth contour) – 214 km2

All types 117 54.8

Coastal shelf (150 ft [45.7m] depth contour) – 214 km2

No Take Zones 97 45.3

 

Top

Key information

  • Management of the environment is a devolved responsibility and establishing, recognising and reporting PAs and OECMs is led by the individual UKOT Governments. Decisions on which sites and measures to report were made by the UKOT Governments alone.
  • All reported PAs and OECMs were designated for an in-situ biodiversity conservation purpose and/or deliver an in-situ biodiversity conservation outcome. They are spatially defined and were formally designated or established at the time of reporting.
  • JNCC collated statistics provided by the UKOT Governments, only undertaking area calculations on their behalf when requested to do so and using official sources of PA data.
  • PA extent is the sum of all areas occurring within PAs and OECMs, using the latest formal site boundaries. Overlaps between sites were discounted to prevent overestimating extent.
  • Percent coverages were calculated relative to the size of UKOTs’ landmasses and seas. UKOT Government coastline and land border data were used to calculate land areas. UKOT waters were measured to their outermost extents (exclusive economic zone, or equivalent) to inform percent coverages in Tables 1, 2 and 3b. UK Hydrographic Office maritime boundary (from the Marine Data Portal) were used for the majority of UKOTs. Median lines were used in the absence of formal maritime boundaries – sea areas for these Territories (as indicated in Table 3b) are approximate.
  • Area calculations were undertaken using a variety of projected coordinate systems native and/or customised to the individual UKOTs (see Appendix 3 in Report 760 for details).
  • Only five OECMs were reported as of the end of 2023. Together these contribute a tiny proportion (less than 0.001%) of overall marine protection across the UKOTs.
  • JNCC’s confidence in the aggregated PA extent statistics (Table 1) is high. However, a number of data issues introduce uncertainty, particularly for territory-level statistics (Tables 3a and 3b). These issues vary by UKOT and are described in the accompanying report.
  • “Terrestrial” refers to both land and inland water environments.

More information is available in JNCC Report 760, along with a datasheet of UKOT Protected Area statistics, available to download from JNCC’s Resource Hub.

Top

Published: .

Back to top