Exmoor Heaths

Site details

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

4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix
Exmoor is representative of upland wet heath in south-west England. M15Scirpus cespitosus Erica tetralix wet heath predominates on gently-sloping and level ground. It is extremely variable in nature and has in places been modified by management, particularly burning. Typically, heather Calluna vulgaris dominates, with scattered plants of purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea, cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, bilberry Vaccinium myrtillus and deergrass Trichophorum cespitosum. In other areas Molinia and Calluna are more-or-less co-dominant, with the former forming tussocks. There are transitions to H12Calluna vulgaris Vaccinium myrtillus heath on well-drained, steeper slopes and to M17Scirpus cespitosus Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire on deeper peat, where the northern species crowberry Empetrum nigrum occurs.
4030 European dry heaths
Exmoor is representative of upland heath in south-west England. The site is notable because it contains extensive areas of H4Ulex gallii Agrostis curtisii heath, a type most often found in the lowlands, and H12Calluna vulgaris Vaccinium myrtillus heath, a predominantly upland type, together with areas of H8Calluna vulgaris Ulex gallii heath. In wetter situations or on peat there can be a high frequency of purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea and cross-leaved heath Erica tetralix, which results in frequent transitions to wet heaths. The associated valley mires support the oceanic species pale butterwort Pinguicula lusitanica and ivy-leaved bellflower Wahlenbergia hederacea. The Exmoor heaths are also important as the largest stronghold for the heath fritillary butterfly Mellicta athalia, associated with sheltered slopes in the transition to woodland. The site holds a small breeding population of merlin Falco columbarius that is the most southerly in the western Palearctic.

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

1230 Vegetated sea cliffs of the Atlantic and Baltic Coasts
7130 Blanket bogs (* if active bog)  * Priority feature
7230 Alkaline fens
91A0 Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles

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

Not applicable.

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