Salisbury Plain

Site details

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


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

5130 Juniperus communis formations on heaths or calcareous grasslands
Salisbury Plain represents Juniperus communis formations near the southern edge of the habitat’s range on chalk in southern England, where it is particularly rare. This site is the best remaining example in the UK of lowland juniper scrub on chalk. The juniper is juxtaposed with extensive 6210 semi-natural dry grassland and chalk heath. In some cases the scrub has developed recently by invasion of open chalk grassland and contains few typical shrub species. However, most of the scrub is of the southern mixed scrub type and is enriched by roses Rosa spp., wild privet Ligustrum vulgare, dogwood Cornus sanguinea, wayfaring tree Viburnum lantana and other species characteristic of the type.
6210 Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)
This site hosts the priority habitat type "orchid rich sites". Salisbury Plain in central southern England is believed to be the largest surviving semi-natural dry grassland within the EU and is therefore the most important site for this habitat in the UK. It supports extensive examples of CG3 Bromus erectus grassland, which is the most widespread and abundant calcareous grassland found in the UK. It also contains extensive areas of the rare CG7 Festuca ovinaHieracium pilosellaThymus praecox grassland, and one of the largest examples of CG6 Avenula pubescens grassland.

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
Salisbury Plain represents marsh fritillary Euphydryas aurinia in chalk grassland in central southern England, and contains a cluster of large sub-populations where the species breeds on dry calcareous grassland. The site extends the range of ecological variability included in the SAC series.

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.