About the territory

The Bailiwick of Guernsey is part of the Channel Islands, and the last portion of the Duchy of Normandy remaining to the English Crown. In 1204 the rest of Normandy was lost to the French but the Channel Islands remained loyal to the English Crown. The islands are governed by their own parliaments; the States, in Guernsey & Alderney, and the Chief Pleas, in Sark.

The Bailiwick of Guernsey consists of a group of islands situated in the English Channel, in the Gulf of St. Malo. The largest island is Guernsey with the capital, St Peter Port, at latitude 49°28′ North, longitude 2°32′ West; about 100km from England and 45km from France. There are seven inhabited islands and a number of uninhabited islets. The area of Guernsey is 63km2 with a population of 63,000. The other major islands are Alderney, 8 km2 with a population of about 2400; Sark, 5 km2 and a population of 600; Herm, only 2 km2 and 60 inhabitants. The Bailiwick also has an intertidal zone of 1,240 hectares.


Guernsey has about 30 classes of vegetation, with grasslands being the dominant vegetation. The most threatened habitats are saltmarshes, dune slacks and open dune. As the islands are closer to France than the British Isles, Guernsey has a different set of species from most of the UK; the terrestrial species found are effectively a subset of those in North West France. Species lists can downloaded from the Guernsey Biological records Centre website (external link).

Guernsey Biological records Centre has recorded 4,449 species of plants and fungi, 5,757 species of insect, and 2,427 other invertebrate species. In December 2012, 369 avian species were recorded on the Bailiwick (external link), however, only about 74 are breeding species. Seabirds are the most important bird populations in the Bailiwick which boasts 1% of the World’s Northern Gannets.

There are 318 other vertebrates. This includes six species of bat, however only two of these are common; the Common pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus and the Grey long-eared bat Plecotus austriacus. The Guernsey Vole, Microtus arvalis sarnius, is endemic to Guernsey. The Greater White-toothed Shrew Crocidura russula is found in Guernsey, Herm & Alderney; it was recently introduced to Ireland but otherwise is not known in the British Isles. The Lesser White-toothed Shrew Crocidura suaveolens found on Sark is otherwise known only from Jersey & the Scillies. According to Edgar (2010) there are four indigenous species of amphibian and reptile, and one introduced species -the Western green lizard Lacerta bilineata.

Policy/strategy background

The Bailiwick of Guernsey has been included in the UK’s ratification of six multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs), these include the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species and Wild Animals (The Bonn Convention), and the Convention on Wetlands of International Importance especially as Waterfowl (Ramsar Convention). The Convention on biodiversity is extended to Jersey and recently to the Isle of Man but has yet to be extended to Guernsey. Limited local legislation is in place to protect wild birds and wild flowers, fifty sites in Guernsey have been recognized as Sites of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCIs), but they have little legal protection.

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