Dungeness to Pett Level is located on the south coast of England, on the border of East Sussex and Kent between Hastings and New Romney. This is a large area containing a wide variety of coastal habitats, ranging from shingle beaches through to various types of wetlands and open water. Dungeness is a shingle beach of international importance as a large cuspate shingle foreland with a complex pattern of ridges reflecting its accretion and development over hundreds of years. The Open Pits contain a natural succession of wetlands from species-rich fen through to sallow carr. The nearby gravel pits have developed features of interest along their margins, as well as an open water interest, and, together with the Open Pits, are used by important numbers of wintering wildfowl.
Rye Harbour has a smaller shingle beach which, together with the pits at Dungeness, supports breeding terns and gulls. The grazing marshes at Pett Level and Rye Harbour have close-cropped swards grazed by sheep where arable farming has not been introduced and support wintering wildfowl, including Bewick's Swan Cygnus columbianus bewickii. The numerous ditches that intersect these marshes have developed a rich aquatic flora and invertebrate fauna, and provide important habitat for migrating Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola. Rye Harbour and Camber Sands, and Rye Saltings, include saltmarsh, sand-flats and mud-flats that provide valuable feeding areas for wintering waterbirds. As a whole, the SPA is important for breeding and wintering waterbirds, passage warblers and breeding terns, which feed outside the SPA in nearby shallow waters. Bewick's Swans also feed on arable fields outside the SPA.