Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

HEATH AND MOORLAND

Heathland is a habitat made by humans, thought to have first been created about 4,000 years ago when woodlands were cut down.  The continuous grazing of animals such as rabbits and sheep and the annual burning of some areas of heathland mean that only small plants, such as moss, shrubs and heather, grow.  If heathland is left ungrazed or unburnt, bracken and young trees start to grow and the heathland eventually turns into woodland.

Areas of heathland above 300m, like the Scottish Highlands, are known as ‘moorland’.

Heath & Moorlands, Photo (c) Richard Carter

WHERE ON EARTH ARE HEATHLANDS?

Heathlands are only found in north-west Europe, in areas where the soil quality is poor and the land is open, flat and has not been converted to farmland.

SOME OF THE ANIMALS FOUND ON HEATHLANDS

ISSUES & CHALLENGES

Disease

Rabbit populations, which help stop the growth of young trees through grazing, were drastically reduced by a disease called ‘myxomotosis’.  As a result some heathlands were not grazed and many gradually returned to woodland.

Construction

In this century, much heathland has been destroyed through house building and road construction.  Some of the better heathland has also been converted to farmland.  These changes in land use have meant that areas of heathland have become small and fragmented (separated from each other).

Fire

In the 1800s, people started using fire to manage heathland areas.  The fire only kills off the plants on top of the soil whilst the seeds underneath the ground level are left unharmed.  But fire is not always popular.  Although the heathland recovers, a number of animals that lived in the burnt area die.  An alternative to burning is cutting back the heather in winter when some of the animals are hibernating or have migrated to warmer climates.

HOW CAN YOU HELP!

  • Make sure that when you visit heathland you stay on the footpaths and do not wander through the heather.
  • Make sure you never light fires in heathland areas.
Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906


Share | |
instagramtwitterfacebookyoutuberssenews