Extent & Distribution of UK Upland Habitats

The tables below give information on the extent (area covered) and distribution of upland habitats around the UK. The most extensive upland habitats are blanket bog and upland heathland covering around 3.3 million hectares combined. Although these habitats occur mostly in Scotland, sizeable areas are also found in the uplands of England, Northern Ireland and Wales.

The other upland habitats are, in comparison, far more limited in extent. Two occur mainly in the Scottish uplands – mountain heaths and willow scrub, and inland rock outcrop and scree habitats. Upland calcareous grassland occurs mainly in England, as does limestone pavement, although this is a far more localised habitat. Calaminarian grassland is a scarce habitat mainly found in the English and Scottish uplands.

 

UK BAP habitats

The table below shows the estimated extent of four upland priority habitat types recognised by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. The values are based mainly on information extracted from the Biodiversity Action Reporting System (BARS).

 

UK BAP priority habitats*

England
(ha)

Scotland
(ha)

Wales
(ha)

Northern Ireland
(ha)

United Kingdom
(ha)

Blanket bog

255,308

1,759,000

70,000

139,796

2,224,104

Upland heathland

243,929

778,000

80,000

11,059

1,112,988

Upland calcareous grassland

12,293

5,000

700

936

18,929

Limestone pavement

2,553

300

54

220

3,127

Calaminarian grassland

[part of this habitat occurs in the lowlands, but most is in the Scottish uplands]

<200

<200

50

 

<450

* information on the extent of the following UK BAP priority habitats is not available: (i) inland rock outcrop and scree habitats; (ii) mountain heaths and willow scrub; and (iii) upland flushes, fens and swamps

 

EU Habitats Directive Annex I types

The table below shows the estimated extent of habitats on Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive that occur in UK upland areas. The data is derived from the 2013 UK Report on Implementation of the Habitats Directive. Note that for habitats that occur in both the uplands and lowlands, the area specific to the uplands has not been determined.

 

EU Habitats Directive Annex I types

(select to follow links to see further information on each habitat)

England

(ha)

Scotland

(ha)

Wales

(ha)

Northern Ireland

(ha)

UK

(ha)

Blanket bog and upland flushes, fens and swamps

 

 

 

 

 

H7130 Blanket Bogs

244,536

1,759,000

53,200

140,000

2,196,736

H7140 Transition mires and quaking bogs
[a small part of this habitat occurs in lowland wetland areas]

2,850

1,420

336

50

>4,656*

H7150 Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporion

[a small part of this habitat occurs in lowland heathland/wetland areas]

>428*

>781*

17

unknown

>1,226*

H7230 Alkaline fens

[a small part of this habitat occurs in lowland wetland areas]

2,800

370

120

40

3,330

H7240 Alpine pioneer formations of the Caricion bicoloris-atrofuscae

6

70

3

79

H7220 Petrifying springs with tufa formation

unknown

46

6

1

>53

Upland heathland

 

 

 

 

 

H4030 European dry heaths

[a small part of this habitat occurs in lowland heathland areas]

320,000

479,000

77,740

16,800

893,540

H4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix

[a small part of this habitat occurs in lowland heathland areas]

25,000

370,000

14,414

58,300

467,714

Mountain heaths and willow scrub

 

 

 

 

 

H6150 Siliceous alpine and boreal grassland

1,078

70,000

84

60

71,222

H4060 Alpine and boreal heaths

1,232

41,000

35

80

42,347

H4080 Sub-Arctic Salix scrub

1

23

24

Inland rock outcrop and scree

 

 

 

 

 

H8110 Siliceous scree of the montane to snow levels (Androsacetalia alpinae and Galeopsietalia ladani)

3,250

60,000

317

100

63,667

H8220 Siliceous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation

1,250

37,500

1,200

100

40,050

H8210 Calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation

300

110

270

20

700

H8120 Calcareous and calcshist screes of the montane to alpine levels (Thalaspietea rotundifolii)

400

150

34

20

604

H6430 Hydrophilous tall herb fringe communities of plains and of the montane to alpine levels

7

200

65

15

287

Upland calcareous grassland

 

 

 

 

 

[H6210 Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies: on calcareous substrates (Festuco-Brometalia)]

[most of this habitat occurs in the lowlands]

[48,700]

[270]

[741]

[936]

[50,647]

H6230 Species-rich Nardus grassland, on siliceous substrates in mountain areas (and submountain areas in continental Europe)

349

4,600

138

40

5,127

H6170 Alpine and subalpine calcareous grasslands

680

2

682

Limestone pavement

 

 

 

 

 

H8240 Limestone pavements

1,978

300

75

220

2,573

Calaminarian grassland

 

 

 

 

 

H6130 Calaminarian grasslands of the Violetalia calaminariae

[part of this habitat occurs in the lowlands, but most is in the Scottish uplands]

200

80

49

329

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