|IPA Factsheet - South West Skye|
Site Description Mainly open and rocky Atlantic woodland (or temperate rainforest). Coille Thogabhaig is the largest ash woodland in Skye and Lochalsh. The Allt an Leth-bheinn is a deep, narrow, limestone gorge with rocky slopes which support tall herb ledge vegetation, calcareous scree and chasmophytic vegetation of calcareous rocky slopes. Coille Dalavil is an upland glen at the southern end of the Sleat peninsula characterised by upland, mixed oak woodland on the slopes and mixed wetland habitats on the glen floor. The northern slopes of Glen Meadhonach support an oak wood, with birch and rowan on acid soils. Towards the western end of the site, there is an area of blanket bog and raised mire. In the Kinloch & Kyleakin Hills, around the coast there is ancient semi-natural woodland with relatively intact transitions from marine to woodland to upland habitats, an uncommon feature in Britain. Wooded areas are interspersed with blanket peatland and there is a small freshwater loch at Coille Dalavil. Elgol: castal woodland with small ravines on steep limestone cliffs reaching down to a rocky beach. Drumfearn: north-facing coastal woodland with ravines.
Botanical Significance Coille Thogabhaig: The ground flora is rich and varied with many plants on or close to their northern limit being present, such as wood speedwell Veronica montana, remote sedge Carex remota and wood sedge Carex sylvatica. Wych elm is occasional and the ground flora includes dark red helleborine Epipactus atrorubens, Hartís tongue fern Phyllitis scolopendrium, herb paris Paris quadrifolia and both Tunbridge filmy fern Hymenophyllum tunbridgense and Wilsonís filmy fern H. wilsonii. The Atlantic lichen and bryophyte communities are amongst the richest in Britain. Coille Dalavil: The flood plain mire is dominated by common reed, sharp-flowered rush and various sedges including the uncommon slender sedge Carex lasiocarpa. The southern slopes support birch-hazel woods with rowan on block litter with mossy carpets. The woodland occurs mainly in ravines where it has escaped the grazing pressure. Notable species include tutsan, stone bramble and globe flower. Rich in epiphytic lichens, it is a nationally important site. Kinloch & Kyleakin: The woods also support a nationally important lichen assemblage. The bryophyte assemblage includes seven nationally scarce moss species. Elgol: Rich in calcicolous bryophytes. Drumfearn: good selection of Atlantic bryophytes.
General Habitat Description Coille Dalavil: sheep and deer grazing, conservation (woodland regeneration). Coille Thogabhaig: sheep, deer and cattle grazing; pheasant rearing and shooting; conservation (woodland regeneration). Kinloch & Kyleakin Hills: conservation (woodland regeneration); deer grazing. Elgol: sheep grazing. Drumfearn: sheep and deer grazing.
Conservation Issues Much of site now managed at least partly for conservation. Grazing and fencing are the main issues - how much grazing is desirable, complete exclosure results in too much woody growth. Rhododendron control an issue locally. Pheasant rearing may become a serious issue at Coille Thogabhaig if it becomes too intense. Other issues minor at present but changes in land use are always a potential threat (e.g. forestry, wind farms, etc).