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Special Areas of Conservation

Stromness Heaths and Coast

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Highlands and Islands
Centroid* HY225133
Latitude 59
Longitude -3.35
SAC EU Code UK0013589
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 638.26
* 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 Stromness Heaths and Coast SAC

General site character

  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (3%)
  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (1%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (12%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (70%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (10%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (4%)

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

  • This cliff site on the north Atlantic coast of Mainland Orkney is selected as an example of extremely exposed cliffs in the north of Scotland. The combination of high, hard acidic rock cliffs and exposure to wind and salt spray results in one of the largest examples of maritime cliff in Scotland, associated with well-developed cliff-top transitions. Grazed cliff-top maritime grassland supports red fescue Festuca rubra, thrift Armeria maritima, spring squill Scilla verna and sea plantain Plantago maritima. Further inland there are transitions to maritime heath rich in species. Rarities such as Scottish primrose Primula scotica occur, with an unusual maritime form of crowberry Empetrum nigrum-rich heath present on deep, free-draining mineral soils and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix on wetter soils.

  • Stromness Heaths is an example of H7 Calluna vulgarisScilla verna heath that is subject to conditions of extreme maritime exposure. It is the largest area of the distinctive northern lichen-rich maritime European dry heaths in the UK. The abundance and growth forms of the lichens in this community are better developed than in other known sites in the UK. There are seaward transitions to maritime grasslands, and inland there are transitions to non-maritime H10 Calluna vulgarisErica cinerea heath and other habitats.

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

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.