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IPA Factsheet - Braunton Burrows
Site code
CountryUnited Kingdom
Administrative regionSouth West (North Devon)
Central co-ordinates51o 5' N / 4o 12' W map
Altitude0 - 65

 Site Description Braunton Burrows is one of the largest sand dune systems in Britain extending for over 5 km from north to south, and typically 1.5 km wide, with sand hills up to 30 m in height. The site has developed at the combined mouth of the Rivers Taw and Torridge. A complete succession of dune habitats is present, from the shoreline strand and open pioneer communities of the mobile foredunes, through extensive dry and wet dune grasslands, to scrub and incipient woodland at the rear of the dune system.

 Botanical Significance The vascular flora of Braunton Burrows is rich with over 600 species recorded. The site is rich in rare species most notably Water Germander (Teucrium scordium), Round-headed Rush (Scirpioides holoschoenus), Sea Stock (Matthiola sinuata), all extremely rare species in the UK. Additional local and rare species include Epipactis palustris, Equisetum variegatum, a confusing swarm of Gentianella spp., (including G. anglica and G. uliginosa), Marrubium vulgare, and Pyrola rotundifolia ssp. maritima.The byrophyte and lichen flora is known to be rich, and includes important populations of rare species such as Petalophyllum ralfsii and Fulgensia fulgens.The importance of Braunton Burrows is enhanced through being one of the most thoroughly studied dune systems in Europe. Noted for vascular and habitat interest

 General Habitat Description Marine [Major]Coastal [Major]Inland Surface Water [Minor]Mire, Bog & Fen [Minor]Grassland and Tall Forb [Major]Woodland and Forest [Minor] Agriculture (animals) (c. 50%)Military (c. 65%)Tourism/ Recreation (100%)Nature conservation/ Reasearch (100%)

Land use

Land use% CoverLevel
nature conservation and researchMajor
agriculture (animals)Minor

Threatened Species

Species NameIPA Assess.Species Assess.AbundanceData qualityCriteria
Liparis loeselii (L.) Rich.20072007unknownunknownA(ii)

Botanical Richness

EUNIS level 2 code & nameIPA Assess.Habitat Assess.% of indicator speciesNo. SpeciesNational BiotopeData qualityCriteria
B1 Coastal dune and sand habitats2009200900unknownB

Threatened Habitats

IPA Habitat code & nameIPA Assess.Habitat Assess.AreaData qualityCriteria
2190 Humid dune slacks200920090unknownCii
2120 Shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenaria (white dunes)200920090unknownCii
2130* Fixed coastal dunes with herbaceous vegetation (grey dunes)*200720070unknownCi
2170 Dunes with Salix repens ssp. argentea (Salicion arenariea)200720070unknownCii


DesignationProtected Area NameRelationship with IPAOverlap with IPA
Area of Outstanding Natural BeautyNorth Devonprotected area overlaps with IPA1181
Site of Special Scientific InterestBraunton Burrowsprotected area overlaps with IPA948
Site of Special Scientific InterestTaw-Torridge Estuaryprotected area overlaps with IPA7
Site of Special Scientific InterestNortham Burrowsprotected area overlaps with IPA247
Site of Special Scientific InterestSaunton to Baggy Point Coastprotected area is adjacent to IPA0
Special Area of ConservationBraunton Burrowsprotected area overlaps with IPA948
Site of Special Scientific InterestBraunton Swanpoolprotected area contained by IPA12
Site of Special Scientific InterestGreenaways & Freshmarshprotected area overlaps with IPA13


TypeDescriptionYear startedYear finishes
Other Management PlanChristie Devon Estates-MOD-Natural England (1960)1960
UK Country Stewardship SchemeHigh Level of Stewardship scheme2008


abandonment/reduction of land managementhigh
climate change/ sea level risemedium
consequences of invasive species (plant)medium

 Conservation Issues The key conservation issue at the site has been the slow yet inexorable stabilisation of the dune system over the past twenty years, which is leading to a dramatic loss in open early successional habitats. As open habitats become more grassy, some of the rarer species for which the site is famed have become rare or extinct: most notably Fen Orchid (Liparis loeselii), which died out in the 1990s.On the inland side of the dunes increasing cover of scrub and woodland is also significant, and could seriously threaten the long-term survival of the botanical interests of the site: Birch (Betula spp.) and Alder (Alnus glutinosa) / Sallow (Salix cinerea) probably represent the principal threats.

Contact Information

ContactContact Type
Bob HogstonSite report compiler