Magnesian Limestone Grassland (definition)

Durham Lowland Priority Habitats
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Magnesian Limestone Grassland Habitat Definition


Identification & Mapping

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

Species-rich, semi-natural grassland on magnesian limestone in the lowlands. Managed primarily by grazing.

Typical grasses include:

  • blue moor-grass,
  • cock’s-foot,
  • common bent,
  • downy oat-grass,
  • meadow oat-grass,
  • quaking-grass,
  • sheep’s fescue,
  • upright brome,
  • yellow oat-grass.
  1. If at least two of the following wild flower indicator species are at least frequent and another three at least occasional in the sward then the grassland meets the definition.
  2. If only three indicator species are occasional in the sward or four species are present at a lower frequency (but not limited to field edges or corners) then the habitat meets this definition but must be recorded as being in poor condition.
    • Betony
    • Bloody cranesbill
    • Burnet saxifrage
    • Carline thistle
    • Greater knapweed
    • Hairy violet
    • Harebell
    • Hoary plantain
    • Rough/Lesser hawkbit
    • Salad burnet
    • Saw-wort
    • Small scabious
    • Common bird’s-foot-trefoil
    • Common rock-rose
    • Cowslip
    • Dropwort
    • Devil’s-bit scabious
    • Eyebright
    • Fairy flax
    • Gentians
    • Kidney vetch
    • Lady’s bedstraw
    • Milkworts
    • Mouse-ear hawkweed
    • Orchids
    • Oxeye daisy
    • Purple milk-vetch
    • Restharrow
    • Spiny restharrow
    • Thyme-leaved sandwort
    • Wild basil W
    • ild marjoram
    • Wild thyme
    • Yellow-wort

Condition Assessment

  1. Cover of undesirable species (creeping thistle, spear thistle, curled dock, broad-leaved dock, common ragwort, common nettle) less than 5%.
  2. Cover of wild flowers and sedges throughout the sward (excluding undesirable species) more than 30%.
  3. Cover of bare ground (including localised areas e.g. rabbit warrens) less than 10%.
  4. Cover of invasive trees and shrubs must be less than 5%.

Adapted from Defra’s G04 lowland calcareous grassland definition.*

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