General characyeristics

Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (1%)

Bogs, Marshes, Water fringed vegetation, Fens (3%)

Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (83%)

Dry grassland, Steppes (7.5%)

Humid grassland, Mesophile grassland (3.5%)

Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (1%)

Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and ice (0.5%)

Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (0.5%)

Habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix

Exmoor is representative of upland wet heath in southwest England. M15 Scirpus 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 H12 Calluna vulgaris – Vaccinium myrtillus heath on well-drained, steeper slopes and to M17 Scirpus cespitosus – Eriophorum vaginatum blanket mire on deeper peat, where the northern species crowberry Empetrum nigrum occurs.

European dry heaths

Exmoor is representative of upland heath in southwest England. The site is notable because it contains extensive areas of H4 Ulex gallii – Agrostis curtisii heath, a type most often found in the lowlands, and H12 Calluna vulgaris – Vaccinium myrtillus heath, a predominantly upland type, together with areas of H8 Calluna 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.

Habitats present as a qualifying feature, but not a primary reason for selection of this site

Vegetated sea cliffs of the Atlantic and Baltic Coasts

Blanket bogs (* if active bog)  * Priority feature

Alkaline fens

Old sessile oak woods with Ilex and Blechnum in the British Isles

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