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Special Areas of Conservation

St Albans Head to Durlston Head

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Dorset and Somerset
Centroid* SZ006770
Latitude 50.59222222
Longitude -1.991111111
SAC EU Code UK0019863
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 283.4
* 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 St Albans Head to Durlston Head SAC

General site character

  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (5%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (20%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (72%)
  • Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (3%)

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

  • St Albans Head to Durlston Head, with Isle of Portland to Studland Cliffs, form a single unit of cliffed coastline some 40 km in length. The cliffs are formed of hard limestones, with chalk at the eastern end, interspersed with slumped sections of soft cliff of sand and clays. The cliffs support species-rich calcareous grassland with species that are rare in the UK, such as wild cabbage Brassica oleracea var. oleracea, early spider-orchid Ophrys sphegodes and Nottingham catchfly Silene nutans.

  • This site hosts the priority habitat type "orchid rich sites". This site contains extensive species-rich examples of CG4 Brachypodium pinnatum calcareous grassland. The site holds the largest UK population of early spider-orchid Ophrys sphegodes. This species has declined very dramatically in the UK since the 1950s, in both population size and range.

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

  • 1654 Early gentian Gentianella anglica

    This site on the Dorset coast, together with Isle of Portland to Studland Cliffs, supports important long-standing populations of early gentian Gentianella anglica numbering several thousands of plants in floristically-rich calcareous grassland.

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.