Forests and Woodland

This section provides brief descriptions of the commoner woodland ecosystems in Wales, outlining both the reference state/s and the commoner modified states likely to be encountered. The scrub habitats are described first, then the pioneer woodland types, followed by mature broad-leaved woods and finally yew woodland, dominated by the only native needle-leaved tree in Wales.

Read more Forests and Woodland

Bracken and scrub

The sections below cover the most common forms of bracken and scrub in the Welsh landscape. There are many other scrub forming species in Wales, such as dogwood (Cornus sanguineus) and wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana), but these are the species that you are most likely to come across. On sand dunes, sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)…

Read more Bracken and scrub

Semi-natural grasslands

Most of the land area of Wales is covered by grassland, much of this, if not all, has been modified through agricultural processes, atmospheric depositions or both. We have used an initial dichotomy of dry grassland and marshy grassland, with more detailed descriptions of the main grassland types provided under the relevant section. Note that…

Read more Semi-natural grasslands

Heaths and mires

This section covers the heath and bog habitats in Wales, all of which are considered to be under threat and listed in Annex I of the EC Habitats Directive. There tends to be a lot of overlap between the dominant species in these habitats, making the habitats potentially difficult to differentiate, particularly in transitional states.…

Read more Heaths and mires

Coastal Dunes

Although sand dune systems are well represented around the Welsh coastline, they are much less well represented in Europe as a whole. The most important sites are located mostly along the Atlantic coast, i.e. in the UK, France, and Spain, and in The Netherlands. Virtually all phases of dune development are listed in Annex I…

Read more Coastal Dunes

Cliffs, boulder fields and screes

Cliffs and screes are found mostly around the coast and in the mountains in Wales. Cliff ledges and crevices provide a refuge for rare wildlife, notably for Peregrine falcons and iconic species of plant, such as the Snowdon lily (Gagea serotina) and yellow whitlow grass (Draba aizoides). Scree and boulder habitats can also be important…

Read more Cliffs, boulder fields and screes


Estuaries are highly productive ecosystems that form where rivers enter the sea: in Wales, this is often signified by the Welsh place name having the pre-fix ‘Aber’ and followed by the name of the river, e.g. Aberystwyth, Aberdyfi etc. The larger, fully developed, saltmarsh systems, e.g. the Severn Estuary, the Dee Estuary and the Burry…

Read more Estuaries


All of the broad habitats outlined briefly here are either inundated by water or exposed to the air at least partially for a few days each year, though some will experience both daily, making them potentially visible on satellite images and by drones. They differ from most of the other habitats covered here by being…

Read more Intertidal