Extent & Distribution of UK Lowland Heathland Habitats

 

The tables below give information on the extent (area covered) and distribution of lowland heathland habitats around the UK. Much of the habitat occurs in lowland England, including the distinctive heaths of Cornwall, Devon and Dorset, those across Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex and Kent, the eastern heaths of the Suffolk coast, Brecklands and Norfolk, and at Cannock Chase in Staffordshire, and Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. In Wales, most of the lowland heath is found to the west, along the coasts of the Gower, Pembrokeshire, the Llyn Peninsula, and Anglesey. Lowland heath occurs from the coasts to the lowland-upland transition zone in Scotland, and is a scattered habitat across much of Northern Ireland.

 

Under the EU Habitats Directive, most UK lowland heathland falls within the European dry heaths type or Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix type. These types occur widely around the UK and mostly in the uplands, where they can form extensive stands; they are far more localised in lowland areas. The Cornish heaths on the Lizard Peninsular include all areas of the Dry Atlantic coastal heaths with Erica vagans type, whilst the Temperate Atlantic wet heaths with Erica ciliaris and Erica tetralix type is a rare habitat occurring only in Cornwall, the Somerset/Devon border, and Dorset.

 

UK BAP habitats

 

The table below shows the estimated extent of the lowland heathland priority habitat recognised by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. Values are given for the overall total and the percentage in each country. The data is based on values extracted from the Biodiversity Action Reporting System (BARS).

 

UK BAP priority habitats

England
(ha)

Scotland
(ha)

Wales
(ha)

Northern Ireland
(ha)

United Kingdom
(ha)

Lowland heathland

58,000

18,888

12,500

5,778

95,116

 

 

EU Habitats Directive Annex I types

 

The table below shows the estimated extent of lowland heathland habitat types on Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive. The data is derived from the 2013 UK Report on Implementation of the Habitats Directive. Note that for habitats that occur in both the lowlands and uplands, the area given is the total for both locations.

 

EU Habitats Directive Annex I types

(click here and follow links to see further information on each habitat)

England

(ha)

Scotland

(ha)

Wales

(ha)

Northern Ireland

(ha)

UK

(ha)

H4030 European dry heaths

[most of this habitat occurs in upland areas]

[320,000]

[479,000]

[77,740]

[16,800]

[893,540]

H4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix

[most of this habitat occurs in upland areas]

[25,000]

[370,000]

[14,414]

[58,300]

[467,714]

H7150 Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporin

[most of this habitat occurs in upland areas]

[>428]*

[>781]*

[17]*

unknown

[>1,226]*

H4040 Dry Atlantic coastal heaths with Erica vagans

600

600

H4020 Temperate Atlantic wet heaths with Erica ciliaris and Erica tetralix

400

400

* minimum value based on or partly on the area of the habitat with SACs.