|IPA Factsheet - Culbin Sands and Bar|
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.
Conservation Issues Effects of active coastal processes of erosion and accretion, existing human activity