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Special Areas of Conservation

Loch of Stenness

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Highlands and Islands
Centroid* HY282127
Latitude 58.99583333
Longitude -3.25
SAC EU Code UK0014749
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 792.59
* 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 Loch of Stenness SAC

General site character

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins) (100%)

Download the Natura 2000 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

  • 1150 Coastal lagoons  * Priority feature

    Loch of Stenness has a single basin characteristic of Coastal lagoons in Orkney, and has features of both silled lagoons and lagoonal inlets. It is the largest brackish lagoon in the UK and is of particular importance on account of its large size, stability, reduced salinity regime and northern location. There is a salinity gradient in the lagoon, and communities representing sheltered marine, brackish and freshwater conditions are found. Loch of Stenness is predominantly sedimentary: the lagoon basin is floored by soft mud, while round the shoreline muddy sediments with sand and gravel grade into pebbles, cobbles and boulders. The soft sublittoral mud supports mats of filamentous green algae and large numbers of burrowing worms, and the bivalve Mya arenaria and the snail Hydrobia ulvae may be dominant. Littoral boulders are dominated by filamentous green algae or fucoid algae, with Fucus ceranoides, characteristic of brackish conditions, abundant in places. Submerged boulders in more saline areas of the lagoon support clumps of mussels Mytilus edulis, the brown alga Fucus serratus and species of foliose red and filamentous green algae. In the inner parts of the loch, where salinity is reduced, the cobbles and gravel support stands of beaked tasselweed Ruppia maritima, F. ceranoides and filamentous green algae. Extensive stands of pondweed Potamogeton spp. are present in areas of particularly low salinity.

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

  • 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.