SPA description
(information as published 2001)

Firth of Forth

image: SPA location map 

 

The Firth of Forth is located on the east coast of central Scotland. It is a complex estuarine site, stretching for over 100 km from the River Forth at Stirling eastwards past Edinburgh and along the coasts of Fife and East Lothian to a wide estuary mouth. A wide range of coastal and intertidal habitats is found within the site, including saltmarshes, dune systems, maritime grasslands, heath and fen, cliff slopes, shingle and brackish lagoons. Extensive mud-flats occur particularly in the Inner Firth, notably at Kinneil Kerse and Skinflats on the south shore and Torry Bay on the north shore. Typically, the flats support a rich invertebrate fauna, with Eelgrass Zostera spp. growing on the main mud-flats, both features providing important food sources for the large numbers of migrating and wintering waterbirds that depend on the estuary. In the Outer Firth, the shoreline diversifies, with sandy shores, some rocky outcrops, mussel beds and some artificial sea walls. The North Berwick coast includes cliffs and dune grassland, with extensive dune systems at Aberlady. The Firth is of major importance for a rich assemblage of waterbirds in the migration periods and through the winter, including divers, sea-ducks, geese, other ducks, waders and terns. Some of these species, notably the sea-ducks and divers, also feed, loaf and roost outside the SPA in the open waters of the estuary. 


Qualifying species

For individual species accounts visit the Species Accounts section


This site qualifies under Article 4.1 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following species listed on Annex I of the Directive:
 
On passage;
 
Sandwich Tern Sterna sandvicensis, 1,611 individuals representing at least 3.8% of the population in Great Britain
 
Over winter;
 
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, 2,600 individuals representing at least 4.9% of the wintering population in Great Britain (winter peak mean)
 
Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, 2,970 individuals representing at least 1.2% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year peak mean 1991/2 - 1995/6)
 
Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata, 88 individuals representing at least 1.8% of the wintering population in Great Britain (WeBS 1992 to 1997 mean)
 
Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus, 71 individuals representing at least 17.8% of the wintering population in Great Britain (5 year mean 1992/3-1996/7)
 
 
This site also qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by supporting populations of European importance of the following migratory species:
 
Over winter;
 
Knot Calidris canutus, 8,013 individuals representing at least 2.3% of the wintering Northeastern Canada/Greenland/Iceland/Northwestern Europe population (winter peak mean)
 
Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus, 12,400 individuals representing at least 5.5% of the wintering Eastern Greenland/Iceland/UK population (winter peak mean)
 
Redshank Tringa totanus, 3,700 individuals representing at least 2.5% of the wintering Eastern Atlantic - wintering population (winter peak mean)
 
Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, 3,586 individuals representing at least 1.2% of the wintering Northwestern Europe population (winter peak mean)
 
Turnstone Arenaria interpres, 1,286 individuals representing at least 1.8% of the wintering Western Palearctic - wintering population (winter peak mean)
 
 
Assemblage qualification: A wetland of international importance.
 
The area qualifies under Article 4.2 of the Directive (79/409/EEC) by regularly supporting at least 20,000 waterfowl
 
Over winter, the area regularly supports 86,067 individual waterfowl (WeBS 1991/2-95/6) including: Scaup Aythya marila, Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus, Golden Plover Pluvialis apricaria, Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica, Pink-footed Goose Anser brachyrhynchus, Shelduck Tadorna tadorna, Knot Calidris canutus, Redshank Tringa totanus, Turnstone Arenaria interpres, Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus, Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo, Red-throated Diver Gavia stellata, Mallard Anas platyrhynchos, Curlew Numenius arquata, Eider Somateria mollissima, Long-tailed duck Clangula hyemalis, Common Scoter Melanitta nigra, Velvet Scoter Melanitta fusca, Goldeneye Bucephala clangula, Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus, Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula, Grey Plover Pluvialis squatarola, Lapwing Vanellus vanellus, Dunlin Calidris alpina alpina, Wigeon Anas penelope.

 


Note:

Many designated sites are on private land: the listing of a site in these pages does not imply any right of public access.
 
Note that sites selected for waterbird species on the basis of their occurrence in the breeding, passage or winter periods also provide legal protection for these species when they occur at other times of the year.