Internationally important species and habitats

There are 17 National Nature Reserves in Snowdonia; more than in any other National Park in England and Wales; and 56 Sites of Special Scientific Interest. The tremendous biodiversity reflects the varied landscape, geology, climate and land management. The richness of plants and animals is fundamental to the history, culture, language, economy and ongoing well-being of all people who live in and visit the area.

A multitude of land and seascapes exist within a relatively small area, and this combines to provide a variety of habitats, cross-over habitats and wildlife corridors. This multitude of fauna and flora are fed by mild, moist weather sweeping in from the Atlantic, resulting in thousands of plant and animal species. 

Some species and habitats are of national and international significance, for example, those which are remnants of the last Ice-Age and provide a glimpse of semi-Arctic habitats. Snowdonia is the most southerly point in the UK for many such species. Amongst the most rare and well known plants and animals found in the high peaks, the Snowdon Lily is unique, as too is the Snowdon or Rainbow Leaf Beetle.

We have a stunning upland landscape of plateau, cliffs, and screes, criss-crossed by wooded river valleys and lakes. Heaths, alpine cliff and scree habitats are common and these support the unique group of both rare arctic alpine higher and lower plants. These also include alpine meadow-grass, tufted saxifrage, alpine saxifrage, alpine saw-wort, alpine woodsia and alpine cinquefoil. Mosses and liverworts thrive here as a result of the relative humidity, and in the extensive areas of igneous rock scree, bryophytes and lichens, with associated plant species such as fir clubmoss, scorched rustwort and Cornicularia narmoerica are also found.

As well as its rivers and glacial valley lakes, we also have a considerable number of small mountain lakes scattered throughout the uplands. There are large populations of the rare floating water-plantain, which occurs in standing water and has specific requirements for survival. The area is also home to endemic eyebrights (Euphrasia cambrica & E. rivularis); these being some of the identified priority species within the Park.


Snowdonia has been recognised as one of 165 Important Plant Areas in the UK.

  • Approximately 20% of Snowdonia National Park is specially designated by UK and European law to protect its distinctive wildlife.
  • The Snowdon Lily is an elegant, arctic-alpine plant which has beautiful white flowers and grass-like leaves. It is regularly recorded as growing high in the mountains of Snowdonia but has not been recorded anywhere else in the UK.
  • 18% of the Snowdonia National Park is wooded.
  • There are two Ramsar sites at Cwm Idwal and Llyn Tegid, which are wetlands of International Importance.