The Moray Firth shores have some of the most striking examples of bars, spits and dune systems in Scotland.
Sand dunes are one of the most truly wild habitats left in Britain, but they are also one of the most threatened and fragmented by development; so those around the Moray Firth are important, and often have both national and international designations intended to protect them.
The largest areas of wind-blown sand in Britain are found at Culbin Sands, near Nairn and Morrich More, near Tain. Culbin is now largely forested, but Morrich More remains largely protected through its use by the Ministry of Defence as a bombing practice site.
The Dornoch Firth and Morrich More form one of the best examples of a large complex estuary in northwest Europe, and has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK. The area includes the most extensive area of pioneer glasswort Salicornia spp. saltmarsh in Scotland. From young shifting dunes to mature fixed dunes and dune heath Morrich More is one of the best UK examples of a complete system of dunes. It is the most important site in the UK for dune juniper, a nationally important species.
To the north the Coul Links sand dune system, by Embo and Loch Fleet hosts a number of internationally significant species. In summer you can see an abundance of flowers, including orchids, rock rose, burnet rose and vetches. The tiny Fonseca seed fly lives here and is endemic to just 30km of Sutherland Coast. It is described by Scottish Natural Heritage as ‘one of Scotland’s biodiversity priorities’.
On the south shore of the Moray Firth sand dunes are found at Findhorn, Burghead Bay, Hopeman and the east and west beaches by Lossiemouth.
Find out more:
Moray coast local biodiversity action plan