H2: Dry Heath/Acid Grassland Mosaic

H2: Dry Heath/Acid Grassland Mosaic

Habitat Class: 

As you walk over higher dry heath you will occasionally come across areas of open grassland which have resulted from past agricultural activity. In some cases this may date date to Mesolithic times and the original woodland clearance which was followed by intensive stock grazing or attempts at cultivation. Other areas may be more recent attempts at agriculture but the underlying sand or gravel soil has defeated even the most optimistic farmer!

In the ancient areas the border between the heath and the grassland may have become somewhat blurred and the flora and fauna will be quite rich and varied whereas in more recent areas there may still be clearly defined fields with less diverse vegetation. It is quite common for these areas to be still grazed by livestock today and in the Purbeck area on Stoborough Heath and Middlebere Heath ponies from the New Forest have been brought in to help maintain the nature of these ancient sites.

This is not a pure habitat type but a hybrid of two but they are so entwined that it is easier to merge them together. Areas of heather and gorse are interspersed with open grassland of where particular dry areas are colonised or the reddish brown sheep' sorrel which gives it a unique and distinctive look.

 


Under the Phase 1 habitat survey classification system dry heath land/acid grassland mosaic is coded as D5 and is described as follow:

"This represents a common mixture of dry heath (D1) and acid grassland (B1). The category has been specified only for the ease of mapping and the relative proportions of each type of habitat should be noted."

Under the National Vegetation Classification system dry heath/acid grassland mosaic  is classified primarily as H1-4, H8-10, H12, H15-18 and U1-8.


 

The information about this Site of Special Scientific Interest has been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

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