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Special Areas of Conservation

The Broads

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority East Anglia
Centroid* TG438209
Latitude 52.73527778
Longitude 1.603611111
SAC EU Code UK0013577
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 5889.43
* 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 The Broads SAC

General site character

  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (16%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (19%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (1%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (1%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (39%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (24%)

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 Broads is the richest area for charophytes in Britain (Stewart 1996). Twenty species have been recorded, which represents over 65% of the British flora. The core of this interest is the Thurne Broads and particularly Hickling Broad which is the richest site in the UK. Sixteen species have been recorded within Hickling Broad, a large shallow brackish lake. Within the Broads examples of Chara vegetation are also found within fen pools (turf ponds) and fen and marsh ditch systems. The Broads supports a number of rare and local charophyte species, including Chara aspera, C. baltica, C. connivens, C. contraria, C. curta, C. intermedia, C. pedunculata, Nitella mucronata, Nitellopsis obtusa, Tolypella glomerata and T. intricata.

  • The Broads in East Anglia contain several examples of southern natural eutrophic lakes. Although artificial, having arisen from peat digging in medieval times, these lakes and the ditches in areas of fen and drained marshlands support relict vegetation of the original Fenland flora, and collectively this site contains one of the richest assemblages of rare and local aquatic species in the UK. The stonewort – pondweed – water-milfoil – water-lily CharaceaePotamogetonMyriophyllumNuphar associations are well-represented, as are club-rush – common reed ScirpoPhragmitetum associations. Some Broads, such as Martham North, Martham South and Upton Broad, have escaped the problem of enrichment that has so affected the flora and fauna on many of the other Broads. Others, such as Hickling Broad, are recovering from these effects as a result of remedial measures. Martham North, Martham South, Upton and Hickling Broad contain holly-leaved naiad Najas marina, a national rarity. The dyke (ditch) systems support vegetation characterised by water-soldier Stratiotes aloides, whorled water-milfoil Myriophyllum verticillatum and broad-leaved pondweed Potamogeton natans.

  • The Broads contain examples of transition mire in a flood plain in the south-eastern part of the UK, where the habitat is rare. The areas of transition mire, mainly of M5 Carex rostrataSphagnum squarrosum mire, M9 Carex rostrataCalliergon cuspidatum/giganteum mire and S27 Carex rostrataPotentilla palustris tall-herb fen, are relatively small, having developed in re-vegetated peat-cuttings as part of a complex habitat mosaic of fen, carr and open water.

  • This flood plain mire site in East Anglia has the largest example of calcareous fens in the UK and possibly the largest occurrence in the EU outside Sweden. The Cladium habitat occurs in a diverse set of conditions that maintain its species-richness, including managed Cladium fen, contacts between Cladium beds and small sedge mires, and situations where Cladium occurs at the limits of its ecological range. The habitat type forms large-scale mosaics with other fen types, open water and woodland, and important associated plant species are the Annex II 1903 Fen orchid Liparis loeselii (found at Upton Fen), marsh helleborine Epipactis palustris, lesser tussock-sedge Carex diandra, slender sedge C. lasiocarpa and fibrous tussock-sedge C. appropinquata.

  • The Broads is one of two sites selected for Alkaline fens in East Anglia, in eastern England, where a main concentration of lowland fen occurs. There are areas of short sedge fen (both M13 Schoenus nigricansJuncus subnodulosus mire and M9 Carex rostrataCalliergon cuspidatum/giganteum mire), which in places form a mosaic with S24 Phragmites australisPeucedanum palustris fen. There are complex zonations present and many differences exist between the individual fens that comprise the site. The fens are principally of the flood plain mire type. The site contains a range of rare and local plant species, including the Annex II 1903 Fen orchid Liparis loeselii, lesser tussock-sedge Carex diandra and slender sedge C. lasiocarpa.

  • The complex of sites in the Broads of East Anglia contains the largest blocks of alder Alnus glutinosa wood in England. Within the complex complete successional sequences occur from open water through reedswamp to alder woodland, which has developed on fen peat. There is a correspondingly wide range of flora, including a number of uncommon species such as marsh fern Thelypteris palustris.

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

  • 1016 Desmoulin's whorl snail Vertigo moulinsiana

    The Broads is the main stronghold of Desmoulin’s whorl snail Vertigo moulinsiana in East Anglia and is one of several sites selected in this part of its range. Several large populations are known, associated with standing and flowing water and ditch systems. This is a very important area for its wetland invertebrate fauna, and many Red Data Book and Nationally Scarce species occur here.

  • 1903 Fen orchid Liparis loeselii

    The Broads in eastern England provide representation of the Fenland form of fen orchid Liparis loeselii in the eastern part of its UK range. Three small populations of var. loeselii are known to occur on this site, and 242 plants were found in 1996.

  • 4056 Ramshorn snail Anisus vorticulus

    Anisus vorticulus occurs across a range of sites in southern and eastern England. The Broads is one of the three main population centres for this species in the UK.

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

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