Beinn Dearg

Site details

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

3130 Oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters with vegetation of the Littorelletea uniflorae and/or of the Isoλto-Nanojuncetea
This mountain massif in the north-west Highlands of Scotland includes a number of small oligotrophic lochs, some of these at relatively high altitude. The massif has a wide variety of landforms created by glacial activity and a diversity of rock types leading to a range of plant communities within the lochs. Notably, several of the lochs support the rare awlwort Subularia aquatica, a plant indicative of oligotrophic water.
4060 Alpine and Boreal heaths
Beinn Dearg is representative of Alpine and Boreal heaths found in the less extremely oceanic north-west Scottish Highlands. The heaths are extensive and well-developed, and there is the full range of sub-types found in this part of Scotland. On this site, as on the Strathglass Complex, western, eastern and northern kinds of heath occur together. The main sub-types present within the site are prostrate Calluna heaths (H14 Calluna vulgaris – Racomitrium lanuginosum, H13 Calluna vulgaris – Cladonia arbuscula and H17 Calluna vulgaris – Arctostaphylos alpinus heaths). These sub-types, and H20 Vaccinium myrtillus – Racomitrium lanuginosum heath, occur on solifluction terraces. On the slopes below, these heaths give way to extensive alpine forms of H10 Calluna vulgaris – Erica cinerea, H21 Calluna vulgaris – Vaccinium myrtillus – Sphagnum capillifolium and H12 Calluna vulgaris – Vaccinium myrtillus heaths, and 4030 European dry heaths on the lower slopes. H22 Vaccinium myrtillus – Rubus chamaemorus heath dominated by Vaccinium spp. is widely-developed in sheltered hollows where snow lies late.
6150 Siliceous alpine and boreal grasslands
Beinn Dearg has the third-largest area of this habitat type in the UK and the second-largest in the north-west Highlands. There is extensive development of U7 Nardus stricta – Carex bigelowii grass-heath and of both the species-poor and species-rich forms of U10 Carex bigelowii – Racomitrium lanuginosum moss-heath. The species-rich form is well-developed and reaches its second-largest extent within the SAC series on this site. Species-rich Carex – Racomitrium moss-heath is associated with base-rich schist on extensive solifluction terracing. This is enriched with arctic-alpine and northern vascular plants, including moss campion Silene acaulis, cyphel Minuartia sedoides, three-leaved rush Juncus trifidus, spiked wood-rush Luzula spicata, sibbaldia Sibbaldia procumbens, dwarf cudweed Gnaphalium supinum and mountain everlasting Antennaria dioica, accompanied by the rare montane calcicole mosses Hypnum hamulosum and Aulacomnium turgidum. Beinn Dearg is one of only two mountains in the north-west Highlands on which the rare Norwegian mugwort Artemisia norvegica is known to occur. Moss- and dwarf-herb-dominated snow-bed communities (U11 Polytrichum sexangulare – Kiaeria starkei snow-bed, U12 Salix herbacea – Racomitrium heterostichum snow-bed and U14 Alchemilla alpina – Sibbaldia procumbens dwarf-herb community) are well-represented but are not extensive.
6170 Alpine and subalpine calcareous grasslands
Beinn Dearg, with Ben Nevis, is selected as representative of the high-altitude sub-types of this habitat type in the western Scottish Highlands. It supports both CG12 Festuca ovina – Alchemilla alpina – Silene acaulis dwarf-herb community and CG14 Dryas octopetala – Silene acaulis ledge community. The habitat type is moderately extensive and well-developed, and supports a rich flora of arctic-alpines, including alpine mouse-ear Cerastium alpinum, arctic mouse-ear Cerastium arcticum, alpine meadow-grass Poa alpina, alpine cinquefoil Potentilla crantzii and net-leaved willow Salix reticulata.
6430 Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels
Beinn Dearg is representative of hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities in north-west Scotland. The habitat type is developed at high altitudes on calcareous schist. It is the best site for this habitat type in this part of Scotland, because of the extensive development of tall-herb vegetation on ledges across the site and the high species diversity. Characteristic species include roseroot Sedum rosea, globeflower Trollius europaeus, water avens Geum rivale and wood crane’s-bill Geranium sylvaticum, mixed with downy willow Salix lapponum in places. Many of the rarer arctic-alpines associated with this habitat are present, including holly-fern Polystichum lonchitis, alpine saw-wort Saussurea alpina, black alpine-sedge Carex atrata, arctic mouse-ear Cerastium arcticum and rock whitlowgrass Draba norvegica.
7240 Alpine pioneer formations of the Caricion bicoloris-atrofuscae  * Priority feature
Beinn Dearg is representative of flush communities found at high altitude in the north-west Highlands. Although the extent of the communities present is restricted, they are the most diverse and best-developed alpine pioneer formations in this part of Scotland. M12 Carex saxatilis mire is frequent, with Scottish asphodel Tofieldia pusilla, two-flowered rush Juncus biglumis, three-flowered rush J. triglumis and chestnut rush J. castaneus. Open, stony flushes of M11 Carex demissa – Saxifraga aizoides mire are also well-represented.
8210 Calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation
Beinn Dearg holds the best example of Calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation in the north-west Highlands. Many of the high altitude cliffs are strongly calcareous and have a rich arctic-alpine flora including mountain avens Dryas octopetala, net-leaved willow Salix reticulata, alpine saxifrage Saxifraga nivalis, hoary whitlowgrass Draba norvegica, alpine cinquefoil Potentilla crantzii, glaucous meadow-grass Poa glauca and black alpine-sedge Carex atrata.
8220 Siliceous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation
Beinn Dearg is representative of high-altitude Siliceous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation in north-west Scotland. On Beinn Dearg the habitat type occurs on large crags of siliceous metamorphosed sandstones. There is a rich flora of characteristic montane acid-loving and base-indifferent arctic-alpines, such as three-leaved rush Juncus trifidus, spiked wood-rush Luzula spicata, dwarf willow Salix herbacea, mountain sorrel Oxyria digyna, northern rock-cress Arabis petraea, stone bramble Rubus saxatilis and the rare Highland cudweed Gnaphalium norvegicum. The associated montane bryophyte flora contains a rich assemblage of species characteristic of the north-west Highlands.

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

4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix
4030 European dry heaths
4080 Sub-Arctic Salix spp. scrub
6230 Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in Continental Europe)  * Priority feature
7130 Blanket bogs (* if active bog)  * Priority feature
8110 Siliceous scree of the montane to snow levels (Androsacetalia alpinae and Galeopsietalia ladani)
91C0 Caledonian forest  * 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

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.