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IPA Factsheet - Culbin Sands and Bar
Site code
CountryUnited Kingdom
Administrative regionScotland East Highland (Easterness)
Central co-ordinates57o 37' N / 3o 46' W map
Altitude1 - 11

 Site Description On the southern shore of the Moray Firth running from 1km east of Nairn to the village of Findhorn. Culbin Sands, Forest and Findhorn Bay SSSI is notified for its geological and biological features. There are four distinct areas; Culbin Sands where marine processes and weather still influence the dunes and shingle deposits; the area of windblown sand and relict dune systems, now afforested, known as Culbin Forest; Findhorn Bay; and Maviston and Lochloy section where the semi-natural woodland and the lochs, Cran Loch and Loch Loy are important.

 Botanical Significance This extensive site contains a wide variety of habitats associated with the largest sand dune system in Britain. These include intertidal flats, sand and shingle bars, dune, dune slacks, saltmarsh, heath, freshwater bodies, freshwater marshes and scrub woodland. Although large areas of dune and dune heath have been afforested, much of the original interest survives and other habitats are intact. The range of plant communities associated with the various habitats are of special interest in the study of plant succession and contain an exceptional variety of species (over 550 flowering plants have been recorded). A large number of rare or local plants occur and the site also lies on a phytogeographical boundary with 48 species at their northern limit on the east coast and three at their southern limit. The diversity of fungi and lichens is also outstanding.

 General Habitat Description Culbin Sands and Bar is one of two sites which individually are the largest shingle sites in Scotland and together form a shingle complex unique in Scotland. Culbin Sands and Bar represent Perennial Vegetation of Stony Banks at their northern range in the UK. Culbin Bar is 7km long and has a series of shingle ridges running parallel to the coast that support the best and richest examples of Northern Heath on Shingle. Dominant species are Heather Calluna vulgaris, crowberry Empetrum nigrum and juniper Juniperus communis.

Land use

Land use% CoverLevel
nature conservation and researchMajor

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
B2 Coastal shingle habitats2007200000unknownB
B1 Coastal dune and sand habitats2007200700unknownB
G3 Coniferous woodland2012201200unknownB
C1 Surface standing waters2012201200unknownB
A2 Littoral sediments2012201200unknownB

Threatened Habitats

IPA Habitat code & nameIPA Assess.Habitat Assess.AreaData qualityCriteria
1220 Perennial vegetation of stony banks200720070unknownCii


DesignationProtected Area NameRelationship with IPAOverlap with IPA
Local Nature ReserveFindhorn Bayprotected area overlaps with IPA768
UnknownImportant Birds Area Moray basin firths and baysprotected area overlaps with IPA1494
Special Area of ConservationCulbin Barprotected area contained by IPA610
Ramsar Wetland SiteMoray and Nairn Coastprotected area overlaps with IPA2410
Special Protection AreaMoray and Nairn Coastprotected area overlaps with IPA2077
Site of Special Scientific InterestCulbin Sands, Forest and Findhorn Bayprotected area overlaps with IPA4916
ReserveCulbin Sandsprotected area overlaps with IPA0


TypeDescriptionYear startedYear finishes
Protected Area Management PlanCulbin Sands SSSI management plan
OtherNatura 2000 form


climate change/ sea level riseunknown
natural events (disease/flood/fire/drought/etc)medium

 Conservation Issues Effects of active coastal processes of erosion and accretion, existing human activity

Contact Information

ContactContact Type
Ruth McGuireSite report compiler