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Special Areas of Conservation


Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Highlands and Islands
Centroid* NG611290
Latitude 57.28888889
Longitude -5.965
SAC EU Code UK0012785
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 1388.34
* 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 Strath SAC

General site character

  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (38%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (31%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (15%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (1%)
  • Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (15%)

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

  • Strath on the Island of Skye includes two lime-rich lochs (Loch Cill Chriosd and Loch Lonachan) situated over predominantly limestone bedrock. The surroundings encompass the most extensive exposure of Durness limestone in Britain, though there are also areas covered by acidic drift. The component lochs represent high-quality hard-water, oligotrophic habitat with water clear to the bottom of the lochs at 4 m depth. The excellent water clarity is reflected by the presence of long-stalked pondweed Potamogeton praelongus. Characteristic of hard-water waterbodies, both lochs support stoneworts Chara spp. Other plants of note include the rare pipewort Eriocaulon aquaticum in Loch Cill Chriosd and six-stamened waterwort Elatine hexandra in Loch Lonachan. In addition, Loch Cill Chriosd and its environs support 34 species of molluscs, three of which occur at their most northerly known locations in Europe.

  • Strath is one of four sites representing low-altitude Alpine and subalpine calcareous grasslands in north-west Scotland. Although the areas of CG13 Dryas octopetalaCarex flacca heath on this site are relatively small, they occur widely wherever there are outcrops of Dalradian Durness limestone from near sea level up to around 250 m. This habitat type is part of a complex mosaic with other Annex I habitat types on the limestone, 8240 Limestone pavements and 8210 Calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation. The site contains a diverse range of characteristic species, including wild thyme Thymus polytrichus, ribwort plantain Plantago lanceolata, purging flax Linum catharticum, spring sedge Carex caryophyllea and common bird’s-foot-trefoil Lotus corniculatus. A sub-type of the Dryas heath containing the calcifuge dwarf shrubs crowberry Empetrum nigrum and bearberry Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is well-developed. Rarer species include dark-red helleborine Epipactis atrorubens and alpine bistort Persicaria vivipara. Unusually, there are transitions to one of the most floristically-rich areas of 8240 Limestone pavements in Scotland.

  • Strath represents low-altitude Calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation in northern Scotland. This is one of the few sites in this area with a markedly calcareous chasmophytic flora, associated with outcrops of Dalradian Durness limestone. The crevice flora is moderately well-developed but is less extensive and diverse than those at higher altitudes. There are only a few rare arctic-alpine species, including rock sedge Carex rupestris and alpine cinquefoil Potentilla crantzii. However, the communities contain an unusual assemblage of species characteristic of both a northern and a more southerly distribution. Northern species include dark-red helleborine Epipactis atrorubens, green spleenwort Asplenium viride and holly-fern Polystichum lonchitis, while southern species include hart’s-tongue Phyllitis scolopendrium.

  • 8240 Limestone pavements  * Priority feature

    Strath is one of four sites representing Limestone pavements on Cambro–Ordovician Durness limestone in north-west Scotland. It is the most extensive and floristically rich limestone pavement in Scotland and represents a more maritime variant of the habitat type. The pavements are found at a range of altitudes from close to sea level up to 280 m. There is a maritime influence across the whole site. Some of the species on this site, including tutsan Hypericum androsaemum, dark-red helleborine Epipactis atrorubens, herb-Paris Paris quadrifolia, burnet rose Rosa pimpinellifolia, stone bramble Rubus saxatilis, wood-sage Teucrium scorodonia and black spleenwort Asplenium adiantum-nigrum, are more southern species, characteristic of Morecambe Bay Pavements near the coast. Indeed, one pavement supports the characteristic southern scrub woodland of hazel Corylus avellana. Other characteristic species, such as melancholy thistle Cirsium heterophyllum, globeflower Trollius europaeus and mountain avens Dryas octopetala, are distinctly northern. Perhaps as a result of their more northerly latitude, vernal species such as ramsons Allium ursinum, wood anemone Anemone nemorosa, primrose Primula vulgaris and common dog-violet Viola riviniana are more common here than in southern coastal pavements.

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

  • Not Applicable

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

  • Not Applicable

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