|IPA Factsheet - Braunton Burrows|
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%)
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.