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Special Areas of Conservation

River Eden

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Cumbria, North Yorkshire, Northumberland and Tyne and Wear
Centroid* NY462237
Latitude 54.60527778
Longitude -2.832777778
SAC EU Code UK0012643
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 2430.39
* 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 River Eden SAC

General site character

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins) (1%)
  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (93.4%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (3%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (2.6%)

Download the Natura 2000 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

  • Ullswater, in the catchment of the River Eden, is the second-largest of the Cumbrian lakes. It is chosen as an example of a relatively deep lake with both oligotrophic and mesotrophic elements in its fauna and flora. The south-western part of the lake is surrounded by high fells of the Borrowdale Volcanics with enclosed farmland confined to the valley bottoms. The north-eastern arm is in gentler terrain with deeper soils and a greater extent of enclosed farmland. The lake flows into the River Eamont, one of the major tributaries of the River Eden. The lake has an extremely rich aquatic flora, including eight species of Potamogeton. These include various-leaved pondweed P. gramineus, red pondweed P. alpinus and long-stalked pondweed P. praelongus. The nationally scarce six-stamened waterwort Elatine hexandra is also found in some of the bays. Ullswater supports one of the few populations of powan Coregonus lavaretus in the UK. Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus was formerly present but is believed to have become extinct in the 1940s, possibly because of mining pollution in spawning areas.

  • The Eden is a north-western representative of sub-type 2. The river flows over both calcareous limestone and sandstone, giving a diversity of ecological conditions, ranging from oligotrophic to mesotrophic. This river has 184 recorded plant species, more than any other river in the UK. The Ranunculus species of the river system include stream water-crowfoot Ranunculus penicillatus ssp. penicillatus occurring here at the edge of its range, and others, such as R. penicillatus ssp. pseudofluitans and river water-crowfoot R. fluitans.

  • Throughout the length of the River Eden stands of alder Alnus glutinosa and willow Salix spp. occur associated with backwaters and seasonally-flooded channels. The least-disturbed stands are on the tributary River Irthing, where they occur on the shingle and gravels of actively-moving channels. The ground flora includes patches of common nettle Urtica dioica, butterbur Petasites hybridus and hogweed Heracleum sphondylium that grade into hollows with greater tussock-sedge Carex paniculata.

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

  • Not Applicable

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

  • 1092 White-clawed (or Atlantic stream) crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes

    The Eden is a river with high water quality that supports a large population of white-clawed crayfish Austropotamobius pallipes in the northern part of its range in England. As with the River Wye, the tributaries of the Eden, especially those flowing off limestone, are of particular importance.

  • 1095 Sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus

    The Eden represents a sea lamprey Petromyzon marinus population associated with an extensive river system on a varied and base-rich geology in northern England. The highly erodible nature of the rock results in extensive areas of gravel and finer silts being deposited throughout the system, providing conditions for spawning and nursery areas. A large and healthy population of sea lamprey is supported in the middle to lower regions of the river.

  • 1096 Brook lamprey Lampetra planeri

    The Eden is an example of a brook lamprey Lampetra planeri population associated with an extensive river system on a varied and base-rich geology in northern England. The highly erodible nature of the rock results in extensive areas of gravel and finer silt being deposited throughout the system, providing conditions for spawning and nursery areas. Brook lamprey is supported widely within the catchment.

  • 1099 River lamprey Lampetra fluviatilis

    The Eden is an example of a river lamprey Lampetra fluviatilis population associated with an extensive river system on a very varied and base-rich geology in northern England. The highly erodible nature of the rock results in extensive areas of gravel and finer silt being deposited throughout the system, providing conditions for spawning and nursery areas. The high quality of these habitats and their accessibility, even in the upper reaches, means that a large, healthy population of river lampreys occurs widely within the catchment.

  • 1106 Atlantic salmon Salmo salar

    The Eden represents one of the largest populations of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar in northern England. It is an excellent example of a large river system that flows over varied, base-rich geology. This coupled with its large range in altitude, results in the development of distinct habitat types, supporting diverse plant and invertebrate communities. The high ecological value of the river system and the fact that the salmon are able to use most of the catchment (even above Ullswater, a large natural lake on the main river), mean that the Eden is able to maintain a large population of salmon.

  • 1163 Bullhead Cottus gobio

    The Eden represents bullhead Cottus gobio in a high-quality, relatively unmodified river in the northern part of its range in England. The presence of extensive areas of gravel and generally good quality water provides good habitat for bullheads, which are widely distributed throughout the system. The tributaries, in particular those flowing over limestone, hold abundant numbers of bullhead.

  • 1355 Otter Lutra lutra

    The River Eden provides an example of lowland otter Lutra lutra habitats in north-west England and complements the selection of the River Derwent and Bassenthwaite Lake.

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.