The Estuary

The Estuary

The Severn Estuary is a vast, diverse and very special place. It includes natural, cultural, and geographical wonders and is a valuable resource for those who live and work around its shores.

These pages provide you with an overview of this remarkable estuary, and cover the following topics:

Physical and Natural Environment

Explore the flora, fauna and formations of the Severn Estuary.

Human Environment

Discover the history of the Severn.

Use of the Severn

Find out what goes on in and around the Severn Estuary.

Environmental Quality

Learn about the water quality, air quality and bathing waters of the Severn Estuary.

Managing the Estuary

Understand more about how the estuary is managed and looked after.

The geographical area of the Severn Estuary Partnership

The geographical scope of the Severn Estuary Partnership includes the Inner Bristol Channel and extends upstream to Gloucester, encompassing the entire tidal reach of the river. This area is integral to the activities and uses both on and offshore.

These pages sometimes include reference to areas outside of the above region, particularly to the west, as these exert a cconsiderable influence on the estuary’s economy and environment. 

Your Estuary

Many people benefit from the Severn Estuary. The Estuary provides resources for communities around its shores including through recreation, transport, trade and materials. It supports many activities ranging from sailing and fishing to dredging and offers opportunities for renewable energy generation. However, the Estuary is an important and fragile ecosystem and therefore needs to be sustainably managed and looked after for future generations. 

The Natural Environment

The environment of the Severn Estuary is unique and diverse, with many different habitats including wetlands, saltmarsh, sandy shores, rivers, rocky coasts, and biogenic reefs divers. The Estuary is fed by the catchments of five major rivers, the Wye, Usk, Taff, Avon and the River Severn, the longest river in Great Britain (180 miles/290 km). Not only is it Britain’s second largest estuary, but it also boasts the highest tidal range in Europe (up to 14.5m) with a tidal regime which causes strong tidal streams, mobile sediments and the famous Severn Bore. It contains a variety of landscapes and seascapes including salt marshes, cliffs, islands and tidal flats. It is a well-known and important nature conservation site because of its internationally important habitats and species, including over-wintering birds and migratory fish. 

A view over Brean Down towards the Welsh coast (Alun Rodgers)

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