Lowland Heath (definition)

Durham Lowland Priority Habitats
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Lowland Heath Habitat Definition


Identification & Mapping

The definition of lowland for the Durham BAP is all land outside the North Pennines Natural Area.

Dry heath, wet heath and valley mire communities in the lowlands on acidic soils and shallow peat, typically comprising heathers, gorses, fine grasses, wild flowers and lichens in a complex mosaic, usually with at least 25% cover of heathers and other dwarf shrubs.

Condition Assessment

  1. Cover of dwarf shrubs must be between 25% and 95%, with at least two species frequent.
  2. There must be a range of age classes of heather present, with cover of young (pioneer stage) heather between 10% and 15% and cover of old (mature/degenerate stages) between 10% and 30%.
  3. Cover of undesirable species (bracken, injurious weeds, invasive non-native plants) must be less than 10%.
  4. Cover of trees/scrub must be less than 15%.

Adapted from Defra’s M03 lowland heath definition.*

*DEFRA (2005) Higher Level Stewardship: Farm Environment Plan – Guidance handbook. www.defra.gov.uk