Site details

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

91A0 Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles
Sunart on the west coast of Scotland contains the richest complex of Atlantic bryophyte-rich old sessile oak woods in the UK and is representative of the mid-west Highlands bryophyte zone. The site is also characterised by one of the UKs most extensive areas of ancient semi-natural woodland, much of which is oak-dominated. However, the woodland canopy is varied, with areas of birch Betula spp., ash Fraxinus excelsior and hazel Corylus avellana, and alder Alnus glutinosa on wet ground. Typically, oak-dominated woodland on lower slopes gives way to birch woodland at higher altitudes, and uninterrupted transitions to marine habitats are found along the shore, a rare situation in British woodlands. The woods support a rich fern flora and an impressive range of lichens, including well-developed lungwort Lobarion spp. communities and many rarities. The rare chequered skipper butterfly Carterocephalus palaemon has a strong population within these woods.

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

1170 Reefs
4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix
4030 European dry heaths
9180 Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines  * Priority feature

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

1355 Otter  Lutra lutra
Sunart supports a relatively high density of otter Lutra lutra. Records show that the site has supported consistently strong populations, indicating that the habitat is suitable for the species. The site is representative of coastal otter populations on the west coast of Scotland, which is a stronghold for the species. The otters mainly forage in the extensive wrack and kelp beds that occur throughout shallow areas of Loch Sunart and which serve as habitat for important prey species. Over 1400 otter holts, typically in areas of dense vegetation and rock boulder cover, have been recorded in the terrestrial areas bordering the edge of the loch and on the main islands. There is also a large influx of freshwater from numerous streams and rivers around the site which are important to the otter for washing.

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.