The extent and condition of heather on moorland in England and Wales, and within different biogeographic regions, were estimated from a survey of 122 1-km squares. The sample was stratified using the ITE Land Classification, selecting only squares from the upland land classes (i.e. 17–28). Taking England and Wales together, the estimated areas of moorland, and heather on moorland, were 14 150 ± 810 and 11 440 ± 790 km 2 , respectively. The results suggest that a large proportion (47%) of the heather on moorland in England was dominant (> 50% cover) and in good condition, and only a small proportion (24%) showed growth forms associated with over-grazing and management neglect. In Wales, 43% of the heather was suppressed (< 25% cover) and 38% showed signs of over-grazing and management neglect. The estimated areas of heather with greater than 25% ground cover in England and Wales were 4 030 ± 530 and 2 990 ± 560 km 2 , respectively. In terms of regional distribution, most heather was found to be within the west Midlands (3 410 ± 260 km 2 ), south Wales (2 930 ± 250 km 2 ), and north-east England (2 540 ± 320 km 2 ) biogeographic regions. In north and south Wales, and south-west England, a large proportion of the heather was suppressed or damaged, probably by over-grazing, neglect or inappropriate management. In the more northerly biogeographic regions, where large areas of moorland are managed for red grouse Lagopus scoticus , the heather was in better condition. A large proportion of suppressed and/or damaged heather was found to be within land class 17, which predominates in Wales, the west Midlands and southwest England. The findings are discussed in relation to conservation and policy.
Biological Conservation – Elsevier
Published: Jan 1, 1995
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