Site details

UK map showing location of Breckland Special Area of Conservation/Site of Community Importance.
Location of Breckland 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

2330 Inland dunes with open Corynephorus and Agrostis grasslands
Wangford Warren and adjoining parts of RAF Lakenheath are included in the Breckland site as the only occurrence of this habitat type in the UK. The site has one of the best-preserved systems of active inland sand dunes in the UK. The habitat type, which is in part characterised by the nationally rare grey hair-grass Corynephorus canescens occurring here at its only inland station, is associated with open conditions with active sand movement. The site shows the colonisation sequence from open sand to acidic grass-heath.
3150 Natural eutrophic lakes with Magnopotamion or Hydrocharition - type vegetation
The Breckland meres in Norfolk represent natural eutrophic lakes in the east of England. They are examples of hollows within glacial outwash deposits and are fed by water from the underlying chalk aquifer. Natural fluctuations in groundwater tables mean that these lakes occasionally dry out. The flora is dominated by stonewort – pondweed Characeae – Potamogetonaceae associations.
4030 European dry heaths
The dry heaths of Breckland are representative of European dry heaths in East Anglia, in eastern England, developed under a semi-continental climate. Breckland has an average annual precipitation of only 600 mm, relatively hot summers and cold winters. Frosts can occur in any month of the year. The dry acidic heath of Breckland represents H1 Calluna vulgaris – Festuca ovina heath in the SAC series. The sand sedge-dominated Carex arenaria sub-community (H1d) is typical of areas of blown sand – a very unusual feature of this location. The highly variable soils of Breckland, with underlying chalk being largely covered with wind-blown sands, have resulted in mosaics of heather-dominated heathland, acidic grassland and calcareous grassland that are unlike those of any other site. In many places there is a linear or patterned distribution of heath and grassland, arising from fossilised soil patterns that formed under peri-glacial conditions. Breckland is important for rare plants, such as perennial knawel Scleranthus perennis ssp. prostratus, and rare invertebrates.
6210 Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)
Breckland in East Anglia is the most extensive surviving area of the rare grassland type CG7 Festuca ovina – Hieracium pilosella – Thymus praecox grassland. The grassland is rich in rare species typical of dry, winter-cold, continental areas, and approaches the features of grassland types in central Europe more than almost any other semi-natural dry grassland found in the UK. The terrain is relatively flat, with few physical variations, but there are mosaics of calcareous grassland and heath/acid grassland, giving rise to patterns of structural variation.

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

91E0 Alluvial forests with Alnus glutinosa and Fraxinus excelsior (Alno-Padion, Alnion incanae, Salicion albae)  * Priority feature

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

Not applicable.

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

1166 Great crested newt  Triturus cristatus

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