General characteristics

Coastal sand dunes, Sand beaches, Machair (2%)

Shingle, Sea cliffs, Islets (5%)

Heath, Scrub, Maquis and Garrigue, Phygrana (10%)

Dry grassland, Steppes (10%)

Improved grassland (10%)

Other arable land (5%)

Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (25%)

Coniferous woodland (5%)

Mixed woodland (10%)

Inland rocks, Screes, Sands, Permanent Snow and Ice (3%)

Other land (including Towns, Villages, Roads, Waste places, Mines, Industrial sites) (15%)

Habitats that are a primary reason for selection of this site

European dry heaths

Although this site is important for its extensive limestone grasslands, some areas on the plateau support dry heath characteristic of acid soils. Both H7 Calluna vulgaris – Scilla verna and H8 Calluna vulgaris – Ulex gallii heaths are represented.

Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia) (* important orchid sites)

The Devonian limestone headland and cliffs of the Torbay area of south Devon support a large area of the rare CG1 Festuca ovina – Carlina vulgaris grassland, including the Scilla autumnalis – Euphorbia portlandica sub-community, known from no other site in the UK. The site is exceptional in that it supports a number of rare and scarce vascular plants typical of the oceanic southern temperate and Mediterranean-Atlantic elements of the British flora. These include Portland spurge Euphorbia portlandica, rock stonecrop Sedum forsterianum, autumn squill Scilla autumnalis and small hare’s-ear Bupleurum baldense. Semi-natural grassland gives way to European dry heaths on flatter slopes above the cliffs in some areas.

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

Caves not open to the public

Tilio-Acerion forests of slopes, screes and ravines  * Priority feature

Species that are a primary reason for selection of this site

Greater horseshoe bat  Rhinolophus ferrumequinum

South Hams in southwest England is thought to hold the largest population of greater horseshoe bat Rhinolophus ferrumequinum in the UK, and is the only one containing more than 1,000 adult bats (31% of the UK species population). It contains the largest known maternity roost in the UK and possibly in Europe. As the site contains both maternity and hibernation sites it demonstrates good conservation of the features required for survival.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Natural England [2015].