Discovering More

It is not only those of us who live in and visit the Roseland who think it is special. Its outstanding qualities are recognised and formally protected by a number of national and international designations. Below is a brief description of these.

AONB: Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – an area of countryside which has been designated for conservation due to its significant landscape value. It is a statutory designation under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
The Roseland, along with the Fal Ria, falls almost entirely within the ‘South Coast Central’ zone of the Cornwall AONB, which extends up to St Austell Bay. “The overriding sense of the Roseland is of an extremely tranquil and well managed farmed landscape with a globally renowned, stunning coastline . . .” (Place & People – The Cornwall Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan, 2016 – 2021).
SSSI: Site of Special Scientific Interest, designated by Natural England due to their fauna, flora, geological or physiographical features; has statutory protection under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

The Gerrans Bay to Camel’s Cove SSSI was notified in 1986 and comprises 140 hectares, stretching 10km along the east coast of the Roseland peninsula. This section of coastline is particularly important for its rich and diverse plant and bird life, together with features of geological and geomorphological interest.

Coastal vegetation ranges from dune communities behind the beach at Pendower, containing locally rare species, to cliff communities and cliff-top grasslands. A population of the rare Shore Dock occurs at Carne beach. The Nare Headland is nationally important for its lichens, with 180 rare species recorded, and 10 rare bryophytes (mosses and liverworts) also recorded.

This part of the coast also supports a wide range of coastal breeding birds including Stonechat, Raven, Rock Pipit, Peregrine Falcon and, a recently recorded highlight, Choughs. Gull Rock supports an important seabird colony including breeding Guillemot, Kittiwake, Shag, Cormorant and Razorbill.


Special Protection Area – a European designation under the Wild Birds Directive (79/409/EEC) to safeguard the places where birds live, and to protect them from disturbance.
Gerrans from Tregaire (photo: Sarah Vandome)

Gerrans Bay from the Nare, part of the SSSI and the proposed SPA (photo: Nick Coppin)

The Falmouth Bay to St Austell Bay, a fully designated SPA, covers the marine environment including Carrick Roads (Fal Ria) and Gerrans Bay. It was recommended for its internationally important populations of overwintering Black-throated Divers, Great Northern Divers and Slavonian Grebe, all of which can be seen around the Roseland’s sea coast during the winter months.


Special Area of Conservation – designated under the European Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC) to maintain or restore to favourable conservation status the habitat types and species specified. In the UK the Wild Birds Directive and Habitats Directive are transposed into national legislation by the Habitats Regulations 2010.
The Fal and Helford SAC comprises Falmouth Bay and Carrick Roads west from St Anthony point, with a range of marine and coastal habitats including sea inlets, tidal rivers, mud flats, sand flats, lagoons, salt marshes, coastal sand dunes, sand beaches, sea cliffs and islets.
The sandbanks around the lower Fal and St Mawes Bank have a wide range of soils, sands and gravels resulting in biologically one of the richest examples in the UK. There are particularly rich invertebrate communities and eelgrass beds; of particular importance are the maerl beds.
Carrick Roads (photo: Nick Coppin)

Carrick Roads towards St Mawes and the entrance to Percuil River; part of the SAC (photo: Nick Coppin)


The Roseland is defined around much of its perimeter by coastal habitats, which fall into two distinct types:
On the East side are open sea coasts comprising mainly coastal cliffs, including tall rocky cliffs and headlands, along with softer lower cliffs where coastal erosion is active. There are also many sandy beaches, some inaccessible except by sea.

Raised beach and cliffs at Carne Beach (photo: Nick Coppin)

The Roseland is bound on the west side by the Carrick Roads (or Fal Ria), an estuarine area which meets the sea between Falmouth and St Mawes, and extends upstream past Ruan to Malpas and Truro. The river complex areas are part of a ria system, typified by steep sides and slow tidal currents, with subtidal rocky shores and exposed intertidal mud on creeks and river branches. The steep river sides support important sessile oak woodland.
The Ria system on the Roseland includes 3 creeks – the Percuil River upstream of St Mawes, St Just creek and the Ruan River, into which the River Fal runs from Tregony.

The Fal Ria with steep wooded sides and deep water, at Turnaware Point (photo: Nick Coppin)

The Ruan river at Ruan quay – saltmarsh and woodland (photo: Sarah Vandome)