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Discover Culbin's extraordinary and ever-changing sandy forest landscape on foot, by bike or on horseback

Culbin's designations

Culbin is special.  In isolation, Culbin’s dunes, ever-changing coastline and plantlife would be unusual enough.  In combination they are unique.

The diverse landscape and unusual species here have achieved national and international recognition and are protected by law.

The Culbin landscape may look fairly tough, but the individual plantlife species which combine to create it, and some of the species which live there, are small and fragile.

Every visit to Culbin, whether on foot, bike, or on horseback has a potential impact on this landscape.  A foot- or hoofprint can accidentally crush lichen or scar saltmarsh, but unintentional damage is easy to avoid if everyone keeps to paths, tracks and marked crossing-points between forest and seashore.

Below, we highlight the designations that Culbin has been given in light of its landscape and plantlife.

Culbin Bar Special Area of Conservation

The Bar - a long dune and shingle bank protecting the Gut from the open sea – has been designated an international Special Area of Conservation for its shifting dunes, coastal shingle and salt meadows.  You can read more about the Special Area of Conservation status on the Scottish Natural Heritage website.

Read more about Culbin’s coastal landscape.

Moray & Nairn coast Special Protection Area (SPA)

SPA designation recognises the quantity and variety of waterbirds, sea ducks and other birdlife which Culbin attracts, including bar-tailed godwit, common scoter, long-tailed duck, dunlin and osprey. 

Moray & Nairn coast Ramsar site

The Ramsar Convention identifies wetlands of international importance for waterbirds.  Culbin is a winter haven for huge numbers of pink-footed geese from Iceland or Greenland, greylag geese from Iceland and redshank.

Without the coastal landscape of Culbin and the Moray Coast, these birds would find it much harder to survive, and so the Ramsar convention also protects the dunes, mudflats, saltmarsh, shingle and sand which make up their habitat.

Culbin sands, forest & Findhorn Bay SSSI

The whole of Culbin and Findhorn Bay has been named a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) because of its coastal geomorphology: sand dunes, saltmarsh and shingle, as well as its invertebrate life (notably flies and beetles) and the overwhelming quantity and variety of its plant, lichen and fungi species.