Southwest Skye IPA

Location: Isle of Skye, off the west coast of Scotland.

Grid Reference: NG 618 122

Southwest Skye IPA has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

The key features of this IPA are:

  • One of the UK’s most important populations of Carrington’s scalewort
  • One of the UK’s most important populations of Atlantic pouncewort
  • The species richness of bryophytes in broadleaved woodland
  • The species richness of bryophytes in bogs
  • One of the best UK examples of threatened habitats of:
    Old oak woodlands with holly
  • South-west Skye is characterised by a greatly indented and rugged coastline.

    The Gulf Stream softens its climate, to give mild winters, earning the Sleat area in the south-west, with its undulating and lush landscape, the title ‘The Garden of Skye’.

    Identified as an IPA for the bryophyte assemblages of the broadleaf woodland and bog habitats found on the island, it is also included due to its areas of old sessile oak woods with ilex (holly) and blechnum (hard ferns), a habitat considered of European importance.

    Ancient deciduous woodlands occur mainly on steep, rocky slopes around the coast and in ravines. Oak and birch with rowan, holly and hazel predominate, but some are dominated by ash and wych elm with abundant hazel. Willow carr occurs on flatter, wetter ground, particularly along the shore.

    Under the woodland canopy, the ground floras are predominantly a mixture of grasses, bracken and bryophytes. More acidic ground supports heather and blaeberry, while base-rich areas tend to support more herbs. Base rich flushes on lower slopes provide suitable conditions for grass of parnassus and tawny sedge. Open glades of heathy vegetation, bracken and bog myrtle may be found. The rich fern flora includes green spleenwort (scarce in this area) and the oceanic hay-scented buckler fern and Tunbridge filmy-fern, and adds to the woods’ significance.

    The Atlantic lichen and bryophyte communities are amongst the richest in Britain. The woods are important for epiphytic lichens which include nationally rare species and the bryophyte assemblage includes the endangered liverwort Atlantic Lejeunea Lejeunea mandonii, for which this is the most northerly locality in the world, and the nationally rare liverwort Leicolea fitzgeraldiae.