Designated Special Areas

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The importance of the wildlife of the Cambrian Mountains is nationally recognised, with more than fifty Sites of Special Scientific Interest, and from an international perspective by the designation of six European Special Areas of Conservation.

Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)

Elenydd SAC

Habitat features of European importance: blanket bogs, calaminarian grasslands; dry heath; and oligotrophic to mesotrophic standing waters with vegetation of the Littorelletea uniflorae and/or of the Isoëto-Nanojuncetea.

Coetiroedd Cwm Elan/ Elan Valley Woodlands SAC

Habitat features of European importance: old sessile oak woods (Quercus robur) with Ilex and Blechnum; dry heath; Tilio-Acerion (Lime-Maple) forests of slopes, screes and ravines

Cwm Doethie – Mynydd Mallaen SAC

Habitat features of European importance: old sessile oak woods (Quercus robur) with holly (Ilex) and Blechnum fern; dry heath.

River Wye/ Afon Gwy SAC

Habitat features of European importance: water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation; Transition mires and quaking bogs.

Species features of European importance: White-clawed (or Atlantic stream) crayfish; Sea lamprey; Brook lamprey; River lamprey; Twaite shad; Atlantic salmon; Bullhead; Otter; Allis shad.

Afon Tywi/ River Tywi SAC

Species features of European importance: twaite shad; otter; sea lamprey; brook lamprey; river lamprey; allis shad; bullhead.

Afon Teifi/ River Teifi SAC

Habitat features of European importance: Water courses of plain to montane levels with the Ranunculion fluitantis and Callitricho-Batrachion vegetation. Species features of European importance: brook lamprey; river lamprey; atlantic salmon; bullhead; otter; floating water-plantain; sea lamprey.

Elenydd – Mallaen SPA: designated for its important breeding populations of merlin, a species dependent on heath and scrub habitats for its prey, and red kite.

Afon Irfon/ River Irfon SAC

The Irfon catchment is designated as a Special Area of Conservation for its exceptional freshwater biodiversity, which includes one of the few remaining UK Freshwater Pearl Mussel populations. Sadly, exposure to multiple pressures means the catchment is currently failing to meet Habitats Directive and Water Framework Directive targets.   The Freshwater Habitats Trust is current running a project to try to address the issues, alongside local farmers, landowners, rural businesses, foresters, statutory organisations, specialist freshwater NGOs and the water industry.

See further at Irfon Catchment – Freshwater Habitats Trust

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Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Sites of Special Scientific Interest are found throughout the Cambrian Mountains.

These are some of the best known.

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Pumlumon

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A mountain range site that supports a variety of upland habitats and distinctive plants and animals. Of particular importance are the extensive areas of blanket bog, dry heath and high altitude grassland, as well as mountain lakes, rare plants, including stiff sedge, spring quillwort, dwarf willow and starry saxifrage, rare and scarce mosses and liverworts, and the exceptional variety of upland breeding birds.

Llyfnant Valley

Elan Valley Grasslands

A suite of 12 SSSIs particularly noted for their upland fringe hay meadow habitats. They form a key habitat for the Section 42 plant species Vicia orobus, and are a Wales Biodiversity Partnership Priority Grassland and Heathland Habitat. The Elan Valley supports some of the richest examples of neutral grassland in Wales, accompanied by equally species-rich acid grassland.