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Special Areas of Conservation

Kenfig/ Cynffig

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Wales
Unitary Authority East Wales
Centroid* SS790813
Latitude 51.5183
Longitude -3.7447
SAC EU Code UK0012566
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 1189.14
* This is the approximate central point of the SAC. In the case of large, linear or composite sites, this may not represent the location where a feature occurs within the SAC.
Location of Kenfig/ Cynffig SAC

General site character

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins) (19%)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes (1%)
  • Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (63%)
  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (4%)
  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (2.5%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (0.5%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (7.5%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (2.5%)

Download the Standard Data Form for this site as submitted to Europe (PDF <100kb)

Note When undertaking an appropriate assessment of impacts at a site, all features of European importance (both primary and non-primary) need to be considered.

Annex I habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • Kenfig is a largely intact dune system in south Wales with extensive areas of fixed dune vegetation with red fescue Festuca rubra and lady’s bedstraw Galium verum and semi-fixed dune grassland with marram Ammophila arenaria and red fescue. There is also a relatively large area of more acidic vegetation dominated by sand sedge Carex arenaria, sheep’s-fescue Festuca ovina and common bent Agrostis capillaris.

  • Kenfig contains one of the largest series of dune slacks in Wales. The dune slacks are species-rich and there are extensive areas of dunes with Salix repens ssp. argentea, which represent a mature phase in dune slack development. This site is in the central part of the range of this community on the west coast and is a highly representative example of this habitat type.

  • Kenfig in south Wales contains the most important example of Humid dune slacks in the UK, owing to the extent of the habitat type and the conservation of its structure and function. These calcareous dune slacks are also amongst the most species-rich in the UK, supporting communities dominated by a variety of mosses and a number of rare plants, notably 1903 Fen orchid Liparis loeselii, for which the site is also selected. Some of the dune slacks on the site are still in the early successional stage of development.

  • Kenfig Pool is a shallow lake system within the extensive sand dune system of Kenfig, alongside Swansea Bay in south Wales. The water chemistry is indicative of a coastal, alkaline lake with a moderate nutrient status. High alkalinity, conductivity, sodium and chloride values reflect this marine influence. Elevated calcium values are probably derived from marine shell remains in the sandy substrate. Large stands of common reed Phragmites australis are found on the pool’s seaward side. Grey club-rush Scirpus lacustris ssp. tabernaemontani, sea club-rush Scirpus maritimus, branched bur-reed Sparganium erectum and yellow iris Iris pseudacorus are also present. A sheltered bay supports a plant association dominated by shining pondweed Potamogeton lucens and curled pondweed P. crispus. Hairlike pondweed P. trichoides is locally dominant in the north end and the south end has abundant rigid hornwort Ceratophyllum demersum, Canadian waterweed Elodea canadensis, fan-leaved water-crowfoot Ranunculus circinatus, spiked water-milfoil Myriophyllum spicatum and the charophytes Chara aspera var. aspera and Nitella flexilis var. flexilis. Shoreweed Littorella uniflora can be found growing in association with C. aspera and the aquatic moss Fontinalis antipyretica along the sandy shore section. C. aspera also dominates the substrate off the grazed landward shoreline, to a depth of approximately 1.5 m.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • 1395 Petalwort Petalophyllum ralfsii

    Kenfig is one of two sites selected for petalwort Petalophyllum ralfsii in south Wales and supports a large population of the species, numbering thousands of thalli. The calcareous dune system has many dune slacks that include the early successional, open slack vegetation this species requires.

  • 1903 Fen orchid Liparis loeselii

    Kenfig on the south Wales coast holds the largest populations of fen orchid Liparis loeselii in the UK, comprising about 50% of the UK resource. Management of the site is directed towards the maintenance and enhancement of the populations of fen orchid. The variety that occurs here, as at Whiteford Burrows, is var. ovata, which is currently known to occur only in Wales and on the coast of Brittany, as well as in the past at Braunton Burrows, Devon, England.

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

  • Not Applicable

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.