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Special Areas of Conservation


Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Highlands and Islands
Centroid* NM369982
Latitude 57
Longitude -6.3333
SAC EU Code UK0012594
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 10839.74
* 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 Rum SAC

General site character

  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (2%)
  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (1.5%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (15%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (47%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (6%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (7.5%)
  • Alpine and sub-Alpine grassland (2%)
  • Mixed woodland (2%)
  • Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (12%)
  • Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (5%)

Download the Standard Data Form for this site (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

  • The mountainous terrain of the island of Rum off the west coast of Scotland supports waterbodies typical of oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters. The lochs in this site are classified as Type 2 or 3 and can be extremely oligotrophic with a low species diversity. However, some coastal lochs exhibit a strong maritime influence and, as a consequence, support a greater diversity and abundance of macrophytes. The three major rock types on the island, Torridonian sandstone and ultrabasic and granitic igneous rocks, influence the trophic status of the lochs. The site contains several species of note including awlwort Subularia aquatica, floating bur-reed Sparganium angustifolium and common reed Phragmites australis. The remote location of the island and its National Nature Reserve status means that the lochs have not been subject to significant unnatural change.

  • Rum, on the west coast of Scotland, contains dystrophic lochans formed mainly at mid-altitude in areas of upland 7130 Blanket bogs and 4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix over Torridonian sandstone. The impoverished aquatic flora is typical of this habitat type and includes bulbous rush Juncus bulbosus and bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata. The dystrophic lochans vary in size but are typically relatively small unnamed waters that are highly acidic and have a range of substrates, from boulders to organic mud or peat. Their small size and remote location has helped to protect the lochans from any significant unnatural change.

  • Rum, in the Inner Hebrides, has an extensive development of the black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans-rich form of northern Atlantic wet heaths that is restricted to western Scotland. It is extensive on slopes which are underlain by ultra-basic rocks, and shows the development of Schoenus in response to mild base-rich flushing. The Schoenus-rich form has affinities to the strongly-flushed Carex panicea sub-community of M15 Scirpus cespitosusErica tetralix wet heath, and shows some similarities to the Schoenus-rich heaths of the Lizard district, which are also on ultra-basic rocks. Other more typical western forms of wet heath with abundant deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum and purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea are also represented.

  • Rum has examples of European dry heaths typical of the Inner Hebrides but is particularly noted for the presence of species-rich heath on base-rich soils. A large extent of the local, species-rich form of H10 Calluna vulgarisErica cinerea heath, Thymus praecoxCarex pulicaris sub-community (H10d), occurs on steep, southerly-facing slopes on ultra-basic rocks. The associated flora includes a number of northern and arctic-alpine species, such as mountain everlasting Antennaria dioica, viviparous sheep’s-fescue Festuca vivipara, alpine meadow-rue Thalictrum alpinum, alpine bistort Persicaria vivipara and alpine saw-wort Saussurea alpina. The associated invertebrate fauna contains large populations of rare and local burnet moths. This northern form of species-rich heath complements that on Great Orme’s Head in Wales, which has a species-rich heath of a much more southern floristic character, overlying limestone. Other kinds of dry heath on Rum are typical of north-west Scotland. They include species-poor H10 CallunaErica heath and H21 CallunaVacciniumSphagnum heath, including some of the Atlantic bryophyte-rich forms of the latter.

  • Rum is one of the best sites in the UK for open rocky Calaminarian vegetation characterised by the presence of arctic sandwort Arenaria norvegica ssp. norvegica and northern rock-cress Arabis petraea, similar to that on Keen of Hamar. The habitat, which represents Calaminarian grasslands of the Violetalia calaminariae, is developed on rocky areas of debris and erosion terraces on the peridotite of Ruinsival eastwards towards Sgurr nan Gillean. A. norvegica is the rare ultramafic species represented, while other uncommon basiphiles include purple saxifrage Saxifraga oppositifolia, mossy cyphel Minuartia sedoides and moss campion Silene acaulis. This is one of the most maritime-influenced sites of the series and the maritime species sea campion Silene uniflora, sea plantain Plantago maritima and thrift Armeria maritima are especially frequent.

  • Rum is one of five sites on the oceanic west coast of Scotland representing low- to moderately high-altitude oceanic sub-types of species-rich Nardus grasslands. This site is characteristic of the communities found to the north and west of the range. Extensive herb-rich grasslands have developed below cliffs of ultra-basic rocks along the coast. The grasslands occur from near sea level to about 750 m. Both CG10 Festuca ovinaAgrostis capillarisThymus praecox grassland and CG11 Festuca ovinaAgrostis capillarisAlchemilla alpina grassland are well-represented. The stands are more scattered and more varied ecologically than on the basalt sites elsewhere in Scotland, but overall the flora is similar. Many uncommon but characteristic species are present, including mountain everlasting Antennaria dioica, bitter-vetch Lathyrus linifolius, milkwort Polygala vulgaris, field gentian Gentianella campestris, small-white orchid Pseudorchis albida, pale sedge Carex pallescens and lousewort Pedicularis sylvatica. Arctic-alpine and northern species include alpine bistort Persicaria vivipara, alpine meadow-rue Thalictrum alpinum, alpine lady’s mantle Alchemilla alpina and viviparous sheep’s-fescue Festuca vivipara. There is a range of transitions to maritime grassland, calcareous grasslands, herb-rich 4030 European dry heaths and open communities on ultra-basic rocks.

  • Rum is representative of mildly calcareous and calcshist screes up to moderately high altitude in oceanic western Scotland. Rum has screes of various types, some of which are relatively small areas composed of ultra-basic rocks. Gravelly screes are widespread and unusual in supporting Scottish asphodel Tofieldia pusilla, which is usually associated with fens. Associated species include mountain everlasting Antennaria dioica, moss campion Silene acaulis, mossy cyphel Minuartia sedoides, thrift Armeria maritima, sea plantain Plantago maritima and purple saxifrage Saxifraga oppositifolia. Other species found in scree of larger rock fragments include northern rock-cress Arabis petraea, alpine penny-cress Thlaspi caerulescens, mountain sorrel Oxyria digyna and stone bramble Rubus saxatilis. Many ferns such as hay-scented buckler-fern Dryopteris aemula, northern buckler-fern D. expansa and male-fern D. filix-mas find a refuge from grazing animals in scree. Also there is a rich community of lower plants.

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

  • 1355 Otter Lutra lutra

    This island contains numerous freshwater lochs and lochans at a range of altitudes from near sea level to over 400 m, a wide range of small rivers and streams, and an extensive area of coastline. The site provides the full range of marine and freshwater requirements necessary for otter Lutra lutra including breeding, feeding and resting sites. Rum’s otter population is representative of otter populations throughout the Small Isles and Inner Hebrides.

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.