Stromness Heaths and Coast
|Unitary Authority||Highlands and Islands|
|SAC EU Code||UK0013589|
|Status||Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)|
|* 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.|
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 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
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.
4030 European dry heaths
Stromness Heaths is an example of H7 Calluna vulgaris – Scilla 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 vulgaris – Erica cinerea heath and other habitats.
Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site
7230 Alkaline fens
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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