Regenerating heathland

View from the Main Heath towards the North Sea

One of the ideas to come out of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro earth summit was that lowland heath contained a very different and valuable suite of animals and plants. It is a habitat of Europe and the UK has 20% of the total area of lowland heath.

Heathland & its regeneration

One of the ideas to come out of the 1992 Rio de Janeiro earth summit was that lowland heath contained a very different and valuable suite of animals and plants.   It is a habitat of Europe and the UK has 20% of the total area of lowland heath.  

When the National Trust acquired the property, there several remnant heaths and there was the possibility of restoring and joining them up.   It was clear that the heathland was the most valuable part of this NT property and work to restore heathland began in 1992.

There are several techniques for restoring heaths; cutting and clearing scrub, de-stumping and even scraping off the humus.   All these have been used and the last scrape was in February 2010.   Heather seedlings take up to two years to appear in numbers.   We have always relied on the natural seed bank of dormant seeds and windblown seeds from surviving plants to restore the heather.

There are large areas of nearly bare earth.   These are the places that we scraped in 2010.   They are now dotted with heather seedlings.

After 20 years of effort there are significant areas of heather of different ages.

Lowland heath

The dominating plant of heaths is common heather – ling.   Bell heather and maybe cross-leaved heather also grow.   Grasses and even bare earth add to the diversity.   Gorse and broom give cover.   The heaths here are quite varied.   They have been managed for twenty years and have different ages of heather, gorse and bramble.  

Wildlife

Land animals that may be seen include common lizards, adders, grass snakes and toads.   There are fewer rabbits than in the past and not enough to control sapling growth on the heaths.

On our heaths you may see or hear green woodpeckers. When disturbed they fly off with a yaffle call. and, at dusk, you could hear nightjars.   The nightjars feed on moths caught on the wing.

Butterflies are less numerous now but can still be seen feeding on bramble and honeysuckle.   The bare earth is home to mining insects and their holes in the ground can be seen in paths.  



 [RE3]NEED DETAIL OF WHAT CAN BE SEEN AND WHAT THEY FEED ON