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IPA Factsheet - Somerset Levels
Site code
CountryUnited Kingdom
Administrative regionSouth West (North Somerset, South Somerset)
Central co-ordinates51o 10' N / 2o 49' W map
Altitude0 - 36

 Site Description The SPA is within this area covers approximately 35,000 ha in the floodplains of the Rivers Axe, Brue, Parrett, Tone and their tributaries. The majority of the site is only a few metres above mean sea level and drains through a large network of ditches, rhynes, drains and rivers. Flooding may affect large areas in winter depending on rainfall and tidal conditions. The Somerset Levels is considered to be of European importance for stoneworts.

 Botanical Significance Area generally noted for stoneworts interest. Typical plant commnunities found in Westhay heath are Golden Dock Rumex maritimus, Marsh Dock Rumex palustris and Milk-parsley Peucedanum palustre; together with Yellow Iris Iris pseudacorus, Water Plantain Alisma plantgao-aquatica, Fine-leaved Water-dropwort Oenanthe aquatica, Reed Canary-grass Phalaris arundinacea, Water Dock Rumex hydrolapathum, Cyperus Sedge Carex pseudocyperus and Trifid Bur-marigold Bidens tripartita, whilst the floating plant Frogbit Hydrocharis morsus-ranae is abundant. The site is of importance for the presence of a nationally rare fen community.Plants commonly seen in Shapwick heath are a variety of grassland communities has developed in the unimproved pastures and hay meadows. There are good examples of the nationally rare and threatened species rich ’mire’ type meadows characterised by Common Sedge Carex nigra, Carnation Sedge Carex panicea, Purple Moor-grass Molinia caerulea, Meadow Thistle Cirsium dissectum and Devils-bit Scabious Succisa pratensis. Drier grasslands include the Common Knapweed Centaurea nigra/Crested DogŐs-tail Cynosurus cristatus type, with frequent Meadowsweet Filipendula ulmaris, Quaking Grass Briza media and Oval Sedge Carex ovalis. Shapwick heath also have plant communities within its ditches such as Lesser Water-plantain Baldellia ranunculoides, Water-violetHottonia palustris and Greater Water Parsnip Sium latifolium. Floating species include the nationally rare Rootless Duckweed Wolffia arrhiza. Maintaining Shapwicks ditches is crucial to the survival of stoneworts that survive. Large populations of orchids are associated with the ’mire’ type and heath communities, notably Fragrant Orchid Gymnadenia conopsea, Lesser Butterfly Orchid Platanthera bifolia and Southern Marsh Orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa. Other nationally restricted vascular plants include Marsh Cinquefoil Potentilla palustris, Marsh Fern Thelypteris thelypteroides and the national rarities Marsh Pea Lathyrus palustris and Milk Parsley Peucedanum palustre. The remnant of active raised bog occurs on the eastern part of the site at Ashcott Heath. Shapwick Heath have ditches and abandoned peat cuts that are diverse in aquatic and bank-side floras. Catcott, Edington and Chilton Moors provide habitats for many plant species such as mire-type communities characterised by Meadow Thistle Cirsium dissectum, Meadow Rue Thalictrum flavum, Quaking-grass Briza media, Heath-grass Danthonia decumbens, Carnation Sedge Carex panicea, Common Sedge C. nigra, Oxeye Daisy Leucanthemum vulgare, and Meadow Vetchling Lathyrus pratensis. and Southern Marsh-orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa. 127 aquatic and bankside vascular plant species have been recorded in the field ditches, IDB-maintained rhynes and deep arterial watercourses. Among this number stonewort species such as Tolypella intricata and Tolypella polifera that are endangered, which merely emphasises how crucial it is that ditches within Somerset Levels are maintained.

 General Habitat Description

Land use

Land use% CoverLevel
agriculture (mixed)Unknown

Threatened Species

Species NameIPA Assess.Species Assess.AbundanceData qualityCriteria

Botanical Richness

EUNIS level 2 code & nameIPA Assess.Habitat Assess.% of indicator speciesNo. SpeciesNational BiotopeData qualityCriteria
E2 Mesic Grasslands2016201600unknownB
D1 Raised & blanket bogs2016201600unknownB
E3 Seasonally wet & wet grasslands2012201200unknownB
C1 Surface standing waters2012201200unknownB

Threatened Habitats

IPA Habitat code & nameIPA Assess.Habitat Assess.AreaData qualityCriteria


DesignationProtected Area NameRelationship with IPAOverlap with IPA
Ramsar Wetland SiteSomerset Levels and Moorsprotected area contained by IPA6390
Special Protection AreaSomerset Levels and Moorsunknown0
Environmentally Sensitive AreaSomerset Levels & Moorsunknown0
National Nature ReserveShapwick Heathprotected area overlaps with IPA381
Site of Special Scientific InterestCatcott, Edington and Chilton Moorsprotected area overlaps with IPA1080
Site of Special Scientific InterestWesthoy Heathprotected area is adjacent to IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestShapwick Heathprotected area overlaps with IPA396
Site of Special Scientific InterestWest Moorprotected area overlaps with IPA212
Site of Special Scientific InterestWet Moorprotected area overlaps with IPA497
Site of Special Scientific InterestCurry and May Moorsprotected area overlaps with IPA473
Site of Special Scientific InterestNorth Moorprotected area overlaps with IPA664
Site of Special Scientific InterestSouthlake Moorprotected area overlaps with IPA196
Site of Special Scientific InterestLangmead & Weston Levelprotected area overlaps with IPA77
Site of Special Scientific InterestKings Sedgemoorprotected area overlaps with IPA829
Site of Special Scientific InterestMoorlinchprotected area overlaps with IPA226
Site of Special Scientific InterestTealham and Tadham Moorsprotected area overlaps with IPA915
Site of Special Scientific InterestWesthay Moorprotected area overlaps with IPA519
Site of Special Scientific InterestBridgwater Bayprotected area overlaps with IPA693
Site of Special Scientific InterestBerrow Dunesprotected area overlaps with IPA199
Site of Special Scientific InterestGordano Valleyprotected area overlaps with IPA161
Site of Special Scientific InterestPuxton Moorprotected area overlaps with IPA37
Site of Special Scientific InterestBiddle Street, Yuttonprotected area overlaps with IPA44
Site of Special Scientific InterestTickenham, Nailsea & Kenn Moorsprotected area overlaps with IPA95
Site of Special Scientific InterestWest Sedgemoorprotected area overlaps with IPA1018


TypeDescriptionYear startedYear finishes


agricultural intensification/expansion (general)unknown
climate change/ sea level riseunknown
water (drainage)unknown

 Conservation Issues Habitat loss through drainage for agriculture, eutrophication.

Contact Information

ContactContact Type
John CreweSite report compiler