Processing and interpretation of multibeam backscatter data for Scotland's seas and other parts of marine waters off the United Kingdom.

Start Date:
February 2011
End Date:
January 2012


Mapping of marine sediments and features provides a crucial component in the development of habitat models for the marine environment. Habitat mapping is the process of integrating geological characteristics and biological information in order to accurately model sea-bed environments. During recent years, there has been significant development in data availability, coverage and the techniques applied to producing substrate and habitat maps.

Habitat maps enable environmental managers to make informed decisions concerning the level of threat to habitats and take a strategic approach to protecting, maintaining and regenerating the marine environment. The requirement to produce sea-bed habitat maps has a strong link to both scientific and policy objectives. A range of policy drivers at national and European level contribute to the planning and delivery of mapping areas. The following are key:

  1. Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC).
  2. Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Directive 2008/56/EC).
  3. Convention of Biodiversity 'Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-202'.
  4. The Marine (Scotland) Act (2010).
  5. Marine and Coastal Access Act (2009).

This project was funded by Marine Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Joint Nature Conservation Committee and Marine Scotland with contributions from both BGS and NOCS. The aim was to produce updated sea-bed sediment maps at a resolution of 1:50000, allowing the partners to produce habitat maps for use across a range of marine management activities, including the selection of Marine Protected Areas and Marine Conservation Zones, informing marine spatial planning, and assessing areas with potential for renewable energy development.

What's next

Although this project has now been completed the process of updating our sea-bed sediment maps continues, funded through MAREMAP.