All five of the AONB’s estuaries share a very distinct character. Their extent, coherence and continuity are a defining feature of the South Devon AONB.
The South Devon AONB estuaries contrast markedly with the much bigger scale and more open and heavily developed nature of the nearby Tamar, Teign and Exe estuaries.
The Salcombe-Kingsbridge estuary in particular is a nationally important example of a ria estuary having very little freshwater input, high salinity levels and a large tidal range. Many truly marine plants and animals are found which seldom occur intertidally in estuaries elsewhere.
Intertidal rocky foreshore, seagrass beds, mudflats and salt marshes are irreplaceable features associated with each of the AONB estuaries.