Isles of Scilly Maps
This scattering of tiny granite islands 45 km off Land's End is the smallest of all the AONBs.
In terms of the variety, environmental quality and beauty of its marine landscape, the AONB is outstanding. It ranges from white quartz sand beaches with jewel-green shallows to dunes and sheer rugged cliffs. In the lee of the Atlantic gales, sub-tropical gardens, brilliant with rare trees and flowers, contrast with the low bare inland heather plateaux and small enclosed fields.
The Isles of Scilly are famous as a landfall for rare migrating birds and in particular, the uninhabited off-islands shelter some of Britain's most important bird populations. The warm clear sea between the islands are home to seals and porpoises and the intertidal zones are an exceptional marine habitat. The islands have been settled since Neolithic times and are rich in archaeological sites.
Only five of the islands are inhabited, St Mary's being the largest with a population of approximately 1,600 (1991 census figures) the total island group population is 2,153 (2001 census figures). The three main economic activities are tourism, early flowers with market gardening, and fishing. The limited scale revenue and resource base of the islands mean inevitable economic limitations. The islands' economy is considered excessively dependent on imported goods, services and export earnings and its agriculture and tourism are particularly sensitive to European economic factors.
Tourism use of the AONB contributes as much as 85 per cent of the local economic revenue, and focuses in particular on the natural and cultural environment. It ranges from local bird spotting and fishing trips to flora and fauna nature and archaeological tours, underwater safaris and a watersports centre. Local recreational use of the coast is also high and the majority of residents own small craft.
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