The Dungeness foreland has a very extensive and well-developed shoreline, although with sparse vegetation and in places some human disturbance. It is one of two representatives of Annual vegetation of drift lines on the south coast of England. The strandline community on this site comprises Babington’s orache Atriplex glabriuscula, which occurs mostly on the accreting eastern shoreline, although it is also present on the eroding southern shoreline.
Dungeness is the UK’s largest shingle structure and represents the habitat type on the south-east coast of England. The total area of exposed shingle covers some 1,600 ha, though the extent of the buried shingle ridges is much greater. Despite considerable disturbance and destruction of the surface shingle, the site retains very large areas of intact parallel ridges with characteristic zonation of vegetation. It still has the most diverse and most extensive examples of stable vegetated shingle in Europe, including the best representation of scrub on shingle, notably prostrate forms of broomCytisus scoparius and blackthorn Prunus spinosa. A feature of the site, thought to be unique in the UK, is the small depressions formed within the shingle structure, which support fen and open-water communities.
Annex II species that are a primary reason for selection of this site
Dungeness in south-east England has the largest shingle expanse in Europe and contains a large number of waterbodies within its 2,000 ha. This extensive site hosts a large and viable great crested newt Triturus cristatus population in a range of natural and anthropogenic habitats. These include natural pools and those resulting from gravel extraction and other activities. Terrestrial habitat of importance for feeding and shelter is provided by a range of open shingle vegetation with scrub in the vicinity of some of the waterbodies.