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Special Areas of Conservation

Lower River Spey - Spey Bay

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Highlands and Islands
Centroid* NJ334650
Latitude 57.67
Longitude -3.116666667
SAC EU Code UK0019978
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 654.26
* 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 Lower River Spey - Spey Bay SAC

General site character

  • Tidal rivers, Estuaries, Mud flats, Sand flats, Lagoons (including saltwork basins) (8%)
  • Salt marshes, Salt pastures, Salt steppes (5%)
  • Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (1%)
  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (16%)
  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (7%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (2%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (26%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (7%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (14%)
  • Coniferous woodland (8%)
  • Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (4%)
  • Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (2%)

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

  • Historically, Lower River Spey – Spey Bay in north-east Scotland formed part of the same shingle aggregation as Culbin Bar to the west. Although sea-level rise has separated the sites, they are still linked, being maintained by the same coastal processes. Lower River Spey – Spey Bay and Culbin Bar are, individually, the two largest shingle sites in Scotland and together form a shingle complex unique in Scotland. They represent this habitat type in the northern part of its range in the UK. Lower River Spey – Spey Bay contains significant areas of both bare and naturally vegetated parallel shingle ridges, although some of these have been planted with trees. The most significant feature of the site is the complex of wet and dry vegetation types, depending on the physical relief of the shingle ridges and hollows. Species-rich dry heath and grassland occurs on the ridges, while in the wetter hollows there is species-rich wet heath and transitions to a vegetation type comparable to that of dune slacks. Large areas of scrub, mainly of gorse Ulex europaeus, also occur.

  • The Lower River Spey in north-east Scotland is unique within Britain in comprising an extensively braided channel along the whole length of the river. The active river channel provides a mosaic of substrates, and in more stable, damper situations large stands of valley alder Alnus glutinosa woods occur, along with willows Salix spp., ash Fraxinus excelsior and bird cherry Prunus padus. The ground flora includes both southern and northern elements such as wood speedwell Veronica montana and wood stichwort Stellaria nemorum.

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.