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Special Areas of Conservation

Exmoor Heaths

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Devon, Dorset and Somerset
Centroid* SS864419
Latitude 51.16444444
Longitude -3.624722222
SAC EU Code UK0030040
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 10670.3
* 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 Exmoor Heaths SAC

General site character

  • Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (1%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (3%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (83%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (7.5%)
  • Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (3.5%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (1%)
  • Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (0.5%)
  • Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (0.5%)

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

  • Exmoor is representative of upland wet heath in south-west England. M15 Scirpus cespitosusErica tetralix wet heath predominates on gently-sloping and level ground. It is extremely variable in nature and has in places been modified by management, particularly burning. Typically, heather Calluna vulgaris dominates, with scattered plants of purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus and deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum. In other areas Molinia and Calluna are more-or-less co-dominant, with the former forming tussocks. There are transitions to H12 Calluna vulgarisVaccinium myrtillus heath on well-drained, steeper slopes and to M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire on deeper peat, where the northern species crowberry Empetrum nigrum occurs.

  • Exmoor is representative of upland heath in south-west England. The site is notable because it contains extensive areas of H4 Ulex galliiAgrostis curtisii heath, a type most often found in the lowlands, and H12 Calluna vulgarisVaccinium myrtillus heath, a predominantly upland type, together with areas of H8 Calluna vulgarisUlex gallii heath. In wetter situations or on peat there can be a high frequency of purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, which results in frequent transitions to wet heaths. The associated valley mires support the oceanic species pale butterwort Pinguicula lusitanica and ivy-leaved bellflower Wahlenbergia hederacea. The Exmoor heaths are also important as the largest stronghold for the heath fritillary butterfly Mellicta athalia, associated with sheltered slopes in the transition to woodland. The site holds a small breeding population of merlin Falco columbarius that is the most southerly in the western Palearctic.

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

  • Not Applicable

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