The Dornoch Firth is located in north-eastern Scotland and is one of the two northernmost estuaries in the Moray Basin ecosystem. The Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet SPA is one of the best examples in northwest Europe of a large complex estuary which has been relatively unaffected by industrial development, whilst Loch Fleet itself is an example of a shallow, bar-built estuary. Extensive sand-flats and mud-flats are backed by saltmarsh and sand dunes with transitions to dune heath and Alder Alnus glutinosa woodland. The tidal flats support internationally important numbers of waterbirds on migration and in winter, and are the most northerly and substantial extent of intertidal habitat for wintering waterbirds in the UK, as well as Europe. The Firth is also of importance as a feeding area for locally breeding Osprey Pandion haliaetus.
Dornoch Firth and Loch Fleet SPA forms an integral ecological component of Moray Basin Firths and Bays of which it forms the most northerly component area.