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Special Areas of Conservation

Cerne and Sydling Downs

Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country England
Unitary Authority Dorset and Somerset
Centroid* ST670021
Latitude 50.81666667
Longitude -2.468333333
SAC EU Code UK0030115
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 371.75
* 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 Cerne and Sydling Downs SAC

General site character

  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (10.5%)
  • Dry grassland, Steppes (89%)
  • Mixed woodland (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

  • This site consists of a large area of semi-natural dry grassland on the west Dorset chalk. Dry valley slopes with a variety of aspects support extensive examples of CG2 Festuca ovinaAvenula pratensis grassland in the south-west of its UK range. A particular feature of this site is the presence of the Succisa pratensisLeucanthemum vulgare sub-community, especially on south- and west-facing slopes. This type of calcareous grassland is almost entirely restricted to parts of Wiltshire and Dorset. On south-west-facing slopes, the nationally scarce dwarf sedge Carex humilis can be abundant in this sub-community.

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

  • 1065 Marsh fritillary butterfly Euphydryas (Eurodryas, Hypodryas) aurinia

    This site supports a large marsh fritillary Euphydryas aurinia metapopulation composed of two large and one smaller sub-populations which regularly expand into other nearby areas in favourable years. These colonies occupy calcareous downland situations and complement the wet grassland habitats of the other Dorset strongholds.

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.