Dungeness (headland) - Ecology

Ecology

Dungeness is one of the largest expanses of shingle in the world. It is of international conservation importance for its geomorphology, plant and invertebrate communities and birdlife. This is recognised and protected mostly through its conservation designations as a National Nature Reserve (NNR), a Special Protection Area (SPA), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and part of the Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) of Dungeness, Romney Marsh and Rye Bay.

There is a remarkable variety of wildlife living at Dungeness, with over 600 different types of plant: a third of all those found in Britain. It is one of the best places in Britain to find insects such as moths, bees and beetles, and spiders; many of these are very rare, some found nowhere else in Britain.

The short-haired bumblebee, Bombus subterraneus, was last found in the UK in 1988, but has survived in New Zealand after being shipped there more than 100 years ago. It is to be reintroduced at Dungeness. It is planned that the first bees will be introduced in the spring of 2010.

The flooded gravel pits on Denge Beach, both brackish and fresh water, provide an important refuge for many migratory and coastal bird species. The RSPB has a bird sanctuary there and every year thousands of bird watchers descend on the peninsula to catch a glimpse of a rare bird from the bird observatory.

One of the most remarkable features of the site is an area known as 'the patch' or, by anglers, as 'the boil'. The waste hot water and sewage from the Dungeness nuclear power stations are pumped into the sea through two outfall pipes, enriching the biological productivity of the sea bed and attracting seabirds from miles around.

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