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Special Areas of Conservation

Limestone Coast of South West Wales/ Arfordir Calchfaen de Orllewin Cymru

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Wales
Unitary Authority East Wales, West Wales and The Valleys
Centroid* SR885969
Latitude 51.63055556
Longitude -5.055833333
SAC EU Code UK0014787
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 1583.86
* 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 Limestone Coast of South West Wales/ Arfordir Calchfaen de Orllewin Cymru SAC

General site character

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins) (15%)
  • Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (27%)
  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (22%)
  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (1%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (1%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (14%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (2%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (10%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (1%)
  • Coniferous woodland (1%)
  • Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (6%)

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

  • The extensive cliffs of south-west Wales represent hard calcareous cliffs in the south-west of the UK. The nature of the rock and the warm south-facing slopes have resulted in the occurrence of a sequence of important species-rich plant communities. At the base of the cliff, on rock platforms, characteristic maritime communities with thrift Armeria maritima, rock samphire Crithmum maritimum and buck’s-horn plantain Plantago coronopus occur. These grade into calcareous grasslands and heathlands, which support a rich assortment of rare species. These include the yellow whitlowgrass Draba aizoides, a Mediterranean species restricted in the UK to south Wales, where it grows with more characteristic coastal species such as spring squill Scilla verna. Other rarities include small restharrow Ononis reclinata, 1654 Early gentian Gentianella anglica, goldilocks aster Aster linosyris and the endemic rock sea-lavenders Limonium parvum, L. transwallianum and L. procerum ssp. cambrense. Important lichen communities occur, with good populations of Fulgensia fulgens.

  • The sand dunes within this site are confined to the Castlemartin Peninsula in Pembrokeshire and include Broomhill, Brownslade, Kilpaison, Linney and Stackpole Burrows. The area includes extensive stands of short, species-rich, fixed dune grassland, which is being maintained by populations of rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, aided by sheep and cattle. Deposited on limestone, these dunes are extremely base-rich, and the fixed dune grasslands have much in common with calcicolous grasslands. They therefore support a number of ‘lime-loving’ species including the rare lichen Fulgensia fulgens.

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • 1304 Greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum

    This site in south-west Wales contains the main hibernation site for the population associated with Pembrokeshire Bat Sites cSAC. It may thus be used by up to 5.5% of the UK population of greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum.

  • 1654 Early gentian Gentianella anglica

    The dunes and coastal grassland at Stackpole support the only known population of early gentian Gentianella anglica in Wales numbering, in good years, several hundred plants and many ‘hybrids’ with G. amarella (G. x davidiana). This is an exceptionally isolated range-outlier from the southern English centres of distribution and there are taxonomic questions over the identity of this species and other Gentianella segregates in the district.

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

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