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Special Areas of Conservation

Salisbury Plain

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Gloucestershire, Wiltshire and Bristol/Bath area, Hampshire and Isle of Wight
Centroid* SU077497
Latitude 51.24583333
Longitude -1.889444444
SAC EU Code UK0012683
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 21465.94
* 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 Salisbury Plain SAC

General site character

  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (1.9%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (94.7%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (0.9%)
  • Improved grassland (0.9%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (0.4%)
  • Coniferous woodland (0.4%)
  • Mixed woodland (0.4%)
  • Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (0.4%)

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

  • Salisbury Plain represents Juniperus communis formations near the southern edge of the habitat’s range on chalk in southern England, where it is particularly rare. This site is the best remaining example in the UK of lowland juniper scrub on chalk. The juniper is juxtaposed with extensive 6210 semi-natural dry grassland and chalk heath. In some cases the scrub has developed recently by invasion of open chalk grassland and contains few typical shrub species. However, most of the scrub is of the southern mixed scrub type and is enriched by roses Rosa spp., wild privet Ligustrum vulgare, dogwood Cornus sanguinea, wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana and other species characteristic of the type.

  • This site hosts the priority habitat type "orchid rich sites". Salisbury Plain in central southern England is believed to be the largest surviving semi-natural dry grassland within the EU and is therefore the most important site for this habitat in the UK. It supports extensive examples of CG3 Bromus erectus grassland, which is the most widespread and abundant calcareous grassland found in the UK. It also contains extensive areas of the rare CG7 Festuca ovinaHieracium pilosellaThymus praecox grassland, and one of the largest examples of CG6 Avenula pubescens grassland.

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

  • 1065 Marsh fritillary butterfly Euphydryas (Eurodryas, Hypodryas) aurinia

    Salisbury Plain represents marsh fritillary Euphydryas aurinia in chalk grassland in central southern England, and contains a cluster of large sub-populations where the species breeds on dry calcareous grassland. The site extends the range of ecological variability included in the SAC series.

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.