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Special Areas of Conservation

Lewis Peatlands

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Highlands and Islands
Centroid* NB456490
Latitude 58.35555556
Longitude -6.35
SAC EU Code UK0019815
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 27955.02
* 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 Lewis Peatlands SAC

General site character

  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (10%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (79%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (10%)
  • Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (1%)

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 site in the Outer Hebrides represents the western extreme of oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters in the UK, and is part of the vast flow-ground on Lewis. Lewis Peatlands contrasts with many of the other UK sites with this habitat type as it comprises an undulating terrain subject to oceanic influences, which is not located within a mountainous landscape. It supports high-quality freshwater loch habitats. The site includes lochs within watershed flows, characteristic of the northern part of Lewis, and lochs within a more dissected terrain in the south of the site. The peatlands and bog systems within the site support nutrient-poor lochs and lochans that contain vegetation typical of the oligotrophic conditions including shoreweed Littorella uniflora, pondweeds Potamogeton spp. and bulbous rush Juncus bulbosus.

  • This site in the Outer Hebrides is part of the vast flow-ground on Lewis and represents dystrophic standing waters in western Scotland. Lewis Peatlands is a complex landscape of broad plateaux, valleys, hollows and gentle slopes that supports extensive 7130 Blanket bogs and moorland where dystrophic water systems occur. The dystrophic waters vary in shape in size but are generally small pools and lochans that can have a complex, interconnected form. The waterbodies are typical of this habitat type being highly acidic, very poor in nutrients and supporting abundant bog-mosses Sphagnum spp.

  • 7130 Blanket bogs (* if active bog)  * Priority feature

    This extensive area of blanket bog represents the second-largest expanse of this habitat in the UK, and one of the largest in Europe. With their north-westerly and island location, the Lewis Peatlands are probably the most extremely ‘Atlantic’ of all the blanket mires in the UK and indeed Europe. The vegetation is predominantly, though not exclusively, of the M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire type, with purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum often dominant and accompanied by cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, bell heather E. cinerea and the western bryophytes Campylopus atrovirens and Pleurozia purpurea. One particularly characteristic feature is the widespread occurrence of the woolly fringe-moss Racomitrium lanuginosum. Although this species is quite common as a hummock-former in northern and western blanket bogs, particularly in areas of peat erosion where it caps the remaining peat haggs, it is only in the extreme north-west that it forms extensive carpets, a niche which elsewhere is the preserve of bog-mosses Sphagnum spp. A mosaic of bog habitats is present including pools, depressions and small lochans with wet and dry heath on intervening knolls. A number of oligotrophic lochs lie within the site as well as the headwaters of numerous small rivers and streams.

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

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