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Special Areas of Conservation


Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Country Scotland
Unitary Authority Highlands and Islands
Centroid* NC129123
Latitude 58.0639
Longitude -5.1833
SAC EU Code UK0030171
Status Designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC)
Area (ha) 11881.94
* 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 Inverpolly SAC

General site character

  • Inland water bodies (Standing water, Running water) (20%)
  • Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (32%)
  • Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (39%)
  • Improved grassland (1%)
  • Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (4%)
  • Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (4%)

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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

  • Inverpolly supports a large number of high-quality freshwater loch habitats, the majority of which are oligotrophic standing waters There are several large lochs within the site, including Loch Sionascaig, together with many other smaller waterbodies which contribute to the overall habitat representation. The remote location and lack of environmental pressures means that the majority of lochs are undisturbed. The nutrient-poor lochs support a typically low diversity of plant species, including bulbous rush Juncus bulbosus, shoreweed Littorella uniflora and water lobelia Lobelia dortmanna. Larger lochs such as Loch Sionascaig have a more varied flora including other species such as quillwort Isoetes lacustris, awlwort Subularia aquatica and alternate water-milfoil Myriophyllum alterniflorum. The diversity of plant species is further enhanced by the range of marginal habitats, which include open stony shores, soft sediment embayments and wetland areas

  • Inverpolly supports high-quality freshwater loch habitats including dystrophic standing waters. The lochs are part of small unproductive drainage systems which characterise this part of the north-west Highlands. The naturally dystrophic pools are small (usually <1 ha) un-named waters, which are highly acidic, of very low productivity, and are often characterised by the presence of bog-mosses Sphagnum spp. The small size of lochans in this category and their remote geographical location has protected them against significant disturbance.

  • With Foinaven, this site provides an outstanding example of Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix in the north-west Scottish Highlands. The heaths are extensive and include a range of sub-types of M15 Scirpus cespitosusErica tetralix wet heath characteristic of the north-west Highlands. The most extensive type is typical wet heath with an abundance of deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum or purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea. There is also an especially large extent of flushed wet heath with carnation sedge Carex panicea and bog myrtle Myrica gale, and more locally, black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans. An oceanic form of Cladonia-rich wet heath with abundant woolly fringe-moss Racomitrium lanuginosum is moderately extensive at higher levels on rockier ground. The wet heath grades into typical western 7130 Blanket bogs, also a qualifying habitat at this site.

  • 7130 Blanket bogs (* if active bog)  * Priority feature

    Extensive blanket bog forms part of a characteristic suite of habitats associated with Lewisian knob and lochan topography. Inverpolly is representative of Blanket bogs in a wet, cool, oceanic climate. The largest extent consists of the western M17 Scirpus cespitosusEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire, occupying much of the extensive flat and lower-lying ground. At higher altitudes smaller tracts of an oceanic form of M19 Calluna vulgarisEriophorum vaginatum blanket mire also occur. The complex of mires on the site is similar to that on Rannoch Moor, with gradations between blanket mire and wet heath on shallower peat, wet valley bog in hollows and soligenous mires where seepage through the peat occurs. The oceanic bogs are characterised by high bog-moss Sphagnum spp. cover and the occurrence of deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum, purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, bog asphodel Narthecium ossifragum, bog myrtle Myrica gale, white beak-sedge Rhynchospora alba and great sundew Drosera anglica. The large Atlantic liverwort Pleurozia purpurea, a characteristic species of north-western bogs, is abundant. On the wettest flats the bog is semi-floating with bog-mosses Sphagnum dominating and pools with a rich flora including bog-sedge Carex limosa, many-stalked spike-rush Eleocharis multicaulis and lesser bladderwort Utricularia minor. One such area within M17 forms an outstanding example of oceanic valley mire.

  • This extensive and diverse upland site in north west Scotland supports numerous soligenous mires, readily identified within the wider blanket bog communities by their relative species-richness. Particularly characteristic of the site are areas dominated by black bog-rush Schoenus nigricans, the best example of which occurs within a small oceanic valley mire west of Loch Scionscaig. Other species associated with these areas include bogbean Menyanthes trifoliata, slender sedge Carex lasiocarpa, bog sedge Carex limosa and lesser clubmoss Selaginella selaginoides. Wetter areas support intermediate bladderwort Utricularia intermedia.

  • At this large upland site in north-west Scotland, Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporion are typically associated with bog pools and other areas of surface patterning within extensive 7130 Blanket bogs and valley mire systems. These areas are typically species-poor and contrast with sites selected in southern Britain.

Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

  • 1355 Otter Lutra lutra

    Inverpolly contains extensive areas of large lochs and small lochans together with numerous small river and burn systems as well as an extent of coastline. It forms a large productive area which provides all aspects of otter Lutra lutra needs and supports a high-quality population representative of north-west Scotland.

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.