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Special Areas of Conservation

Carmarthen Bay Dunes/ Twyni Bae Caerfyrddin

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Wales
Unitary Authority East Wales, West Wales and The Valleys
Centroid* SN285074
Latitude 51.73916667
Longitude -4.482777778
SAC EU Code UK0020019
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 1204.02
* 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 Carmarthen Bay Dunes/ Twyni Bae Caerfyrddin SAC

General site character

  • Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (90%)
  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (1%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (4%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (5%)

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

  • The three Carmarthen Bay Dunes sites within the Burry Inlet provide a representative example of Embryonic shifting dunes in south Wales. They support areas of Embryonic shifting dune in which sand couch Elytrigia juncea is the dominant sand-binding species. There are well-developed transitions to marram Ammophila arenaria dunes.

  • Carmarthen Bay Dunes is representative of mobile dunes in south Wales and contains a very large area of shifting dunes along the shoreline, covering approximately 80 ha in total. In parts of the system (e.g. at Whiteford Burrows) dunes are actively accreting and there are clear zonations of embryonic dunes, shifting dunes and semi-fixed dunes. Uncommon species recorded within the shifting dunes include sea spurge Euphorbia paralias.

  • Important dune systems with actively-forming spits and well-conserved structure and function occur within the Carmarthen Bay Dunes complex at Whiteford, Pembrey Coast and Laugharne and Pendine Burrows. The vegetation includes extensive areas of fixed dune grassland with red fescue Festuca rubra and lady’s bedstraw Galium verum and semi-fixed dune grassland with marram Ammophila arenaria and red fescue.

  • Carmarthen Bay Dunes is representative of dunes with Salix repens ssp. argentea in the south Wales part of its range. Three dune systems associated with the Burry Inlet – Whiteford and Pembrey Dunes, Laugharne and Pendine Burrows – contain examples of the habitat type, part of a range of dune habitats on the site.

  • In total this site includes almost 100 ha of Humid dune slack, representing the largest area in Wales. Many of these dune slacks are very rich in species, including the rare Annex II species 1903 Fen orchid Liparis loeselii. A number of successional stages are present, ranging from embryonic to fully mature slacks, and the area is also notable for its interesting dune slack – saltmarsh transitions.

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

  • 1014 Narrow-mouthed whorl snail Vertigo angustior

    Carmarthen Bay Dunes represents narrow-mouthed whorl snail Vertigo angustior in south Wales. Whiteford Burrows contains by far the largest known population of this snail in the UK. The snail occurs at this site in areas of freshwater seepage at the junction between sand dune and saltmarsh habitat, where horse grazing maintains the open conditions this species requires.

  • 1395 Petalwort Petalophyllum ralfsii

    Carmarthen Bay Dunes is one of two sites selected for petalwort Petalophyllum ralfsii in south Wales. Whiteford Burrows is included in this site and has a large population of the liverwort. Some of the largest and least-disturbed calcareous dune slack systems in the UK occur in this area, a high proportion of which are very open in character.

  • 1903 Fen orchid Liparis loeselii

    Whiteford Burrows, on the Burry Inlet, south Wales, is one of the few sites in the west where fen orchid Liparis loeselii is still known to occur. Populations are somewhat smaller in size than those at Kenfig but nevertheless the site supports over 10% of the UK resource. The variety that occurs here, as at Kenfig, is var. ovata, which is currently known to occur only in Wales and on the coast of Brittany, as well as in the past at Braunton Burrows, Devon, England. The fen orchid on this site is var. ovata.

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.