Special Areas of Conservation (SAC)
Special Areas of Conservation are the most important sites for wildlife in the UK and are of international importance for their wildlife and habitats. They are protected by the European Union's Habitats Directive and are a vital part of global efforts to conserve the world's biodiversity.
Hastings Cliffs Special Area of Conservation is the only SAC in the borough. Hastings Cliffs is part of the wider Hastings Country Park Nature Reserve and follows the coast from Rock-a-Nore at the Old Town to Fairlight.
Hastings Cliffs are an area of actively eroding soft rock cliff on the south coast of England. They include the most southerly exposures of the lower Hastings Beds.
The site contains three valleys cut into the strata, which support woodland and scrub habitats with unusual bryophyte flora. Closer to the sea the maritime influence stunts the trees, but other bryophytes become important here, with one species, Fragrant Crestwort (Lophocolea fragrans), at its only south-east England locality. Maritime scrub and coastal heathland are found closer to the cliff edge, with grassland supporting maritime species such as sea thrift (Armeria maritima).
The clays and sands that form the cliff slopes are eroding and support a range of habitats from bare ground and flushes to maritime grassland, scrub and woodland, reflecting the successional development of vegetation following cliff-falls.
The full citation and conservation objectives are also found at Natural England's website.