Penhale Dunes

Site details

UK map showing location of Penhale Dunes Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of Penhale Dunes SAC/SCI/cSAC
 

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

2130 "Fixed coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation (""grey dunes"")"  * Priority feature
Penhale Dunes, like Braunton Burrows, is in south-west England and also has a large area of fixed dunes with herbaceous vegetation on an extensive and exposed calcareous dune system where active geomorphological and successional processes occur. However, of particular interest are the communities developing on sand overlying the adjacent hillsides, which has been blown inland by strong winds. In this respect the site is functionally similar to Invernaver, on the north coast of Scotland, though the vegetation is very different owing to climatic differences.
2190 Humid dune slacks
Penhale Dunes in south-west England is an extensive and exposed calcareous dune system where active geomorphological and successional dune processes occur. Humid dune slacks with an interesting flora are well-developed in the northern section where they often form marshy areas or pools. The drier slacks support short, rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus-grazed turf with species such as silverweed Potentilla anserina, common centaury Centaurium erythraea and pyramidal orchid Anacamptis pyramidalis. The damper slacks are colonised by taller herbs including meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaria, water mint Mentha aquatica, great willowherb Epilobium hirsutum and water horsetail Equisetum palustre. The dune slacks also support a number of uncommon plant species including populations of the Annex II species 1441 shore dock Rumex rupestris for which the site is also selected. Other low-lying wetlands within the site are important for sedge and fern-dominated communities.

Annex I habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

2120 "Shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenaria (""white dunes"")"
2170 Dunes with Salix repens ssp. argentea (Salicion arenariae)

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

1395 Petalwort  Petalophyllum ralfsii
Penhale’s extensive dune system supports a large population of petalwort Petalophyllum ralfsii and is one of three sites selected to represent the species in south-west England. Recorded here since 1919, it occurs in damp, calcareous dune slacks.
1441 Shore dock  Rumex rupestris
Penhale Dunes is an important sand-dune site for shore dock Rumex rupestris, with possibly the largest concentration of plants on the UK mainland. More than 50 plants were recorded at this site in the late 1980s; in 1994 the number had apparently declined to 33 fruiting plants but, following the discovery in the late 1990s of new plants away from the previously-known colonies, the total population is now thought to comprise >70 plants.
1654 Early gentian  Gentianella anglica
This site supports strong populations of Gentianella anglica. Populations of G. anglica in Cornwall are now viewed as mixed populations of G. anglica ssp. anglica and its ‘hybrid’ with autumn gentian Gentianella amarella, G. x davidiana (Rich et al. 1997). They were formerly regarded as a subspecies, G. anglica ssp. cornubiensis (Pritchard 1959). Plants at Penhale Dunes have been found to range from pure G. anglica through a range of intermediate forms to pure G. amarella (Wilson 1999).

Annex II species present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

Not applicable.


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