Habitat account - Coastal sand dunes and continental dunes

2250 Coastal dunes with Juniperus spp.  * Priority feature

Background to selection

Distribution of SACs/SCIs/cSACs with habitat 2250 Coastal dunes with Juniperus spp..  Click image for enlarged map.
Distribution of SACs/SCIs/cSACs with habitat 2250 Coastal dunes with Juniperus spp.. Click image for enlarged map.

Description and ecological characteristics


This habitat type comprises common juniper Juniperus communis scrub on coastal sand dunes in a variety of situations. Both prostrate and erect forms of juniper can be found. Stands are usually very small and are intimately mixed with other Annex I habitat types, including dune grassland and heath. There is complete range from discrete stands to more scattered and occasional individuals, which occur within habitat types defined as fixed dunes.

European status and distribution


Coastal dunes with juniper Juniperus spp. are widespread but uncommon on the coasts of Europe. Northern variants of the community with common juniper Juniperus communis occur in Britain and Denmark, while different species of juniper occur on Iberian and Mediterranean coasts.

UK status and distribution Click to view UK distribution of this habitat


Coastal dunes with juniper Juniperus spp. are rare in the UK. Ten localities, all in Scotland, are known, of which three are noteworthy.

Site selection rationale


Coastal dunes with juniper Juniperus spp. is a very rare habitat type in the UK, and the SAC series contains the only localities known to hold moderately extensive stands.

Site accounts

Dornoch Firth and Morrich More Extra-Regio, Highlands and Islands
Morrich More is the most important site in the UK for juniper Juniperus spp. stands on dune. Stands of juniper cover approximately 10 ha, with scattered individuals over a larger area. The juniper is extremely well-developed on the dry ridges and transitions to dune slacks. The best stands occur in grasslands in the southern sector, but prostrate individuals also extend into wet heath and slack habitats within the site.
Invernaver Highlands and Islands
Invernaver contains a high density of dune habitats in a relatively small area, with an extensive transition zone to non-dune conditions. Dune juniper thickets occur in their more dispersed form, with scattered individuals occurring relatively widely. Of particular interest is the occurrence of the scattered form of Coastal dunes with Juniperus spp. on ‘climbing dunes’ found where sand has been blown onto cliff slopes, giving complex transitions from dune to cliff habitats and mountain avens Dryas octopetala heath. Juniper is also found as more discrete areas of low scrub in the dunes, extending as more scattered individuals into the non-dune habitats of this site.

SACs/SCIs/cSACs where this Annex I habitat is a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for site selection

Not applicable.

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