H1: Dry Heath

Dry heath typically occurs on higher levels of fertile acid sands and gravels that drain freely with the falling rain water passing quickly through the soil to the peat layer below and down towards wet heath and eventually valley mire and bog. Being such difficult conditions for plants to grow dry heathland is dominated by specialist plants such as heather and gorse. Open dry heath is dependant on some form of intervention management in the form of grazing, burning or clearing to stop regeneration by scrub and eventually tree species such as birch and Scots pine.   There are various types of dry heath but analysis of these is rather for the experts and I choose to pit them all into one heading but as you visit various areas of heath you start to notice that, contrary to popular belief, heathland habitat is, indeed, quite variable in subtle ways. For example, north of Poole the dominant heather is ling whereas south of Poole it is the deeper purple of bell heather than is dominant. Again, to the north of Poole there is quite a lot of western gorse whereas to the south European gorse  is more common. The dwarf gorse is more widespread to the north of Poole although is frequent to the south. Within any dry heath areas there are going to be variations as well where, for example, worn paths expose the sand below. his is where some of reptiles thrive along with ground nesting bees, wasps and beetles. Gorse scrub can establish in some areas, a home for Dartford warblers, and elsewhere scattered birch and Scots pine may become established which are beneficial to woodlark, tree pipit and nightjar. Lowland dry heath is an internationally endangered habitat but, thankfully, although much has been lost in the last fifty years or so, there is still a good amount left in Dorset.  Under the Phase 1 habitat survey classification system dry dwarf shrub heath is coded as D1 and is described as follow: "Vegetation with greater than 25% cover of encoids or small gorse species in relatively dry situations. Calluna vulgaris (ling). Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry), Erica cineraria (bell heather), Ulex minor (dwarf gorse) and Ulex galli (western gorse) are typical of lowland dry dwarf shrub heath. Acid heaths usually occur on deep podsols developed on base-deficient sands, gravels and clays. Basic heaths are much more restricted in extent and may be recognised by the presence of herbs characteristic of chalk grassland and open habitats. " Under the National Vegetation Classification system dry heath is classified primarily as H1-4, H6, H8-10 and H12-22.  

Habitat Species List
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Habitat Sites List
Displaying 1 - 54 of 54
Site Extent
Arne Nature Reserve

Significant

Thorncombe Wood and Duddle Heath

Foundation

Coombe Heath Nature Reserve

Significant

Carey

Significant

Higher Hyde Heath Nature Reserve

Partial

Stoborough Heath National Nature Reserve

Partial

Hartland Moor National Nature Reserve

Partial

Morden Bog National Nature Reserve

Partial

Holton Lee

Foundation

Ham Common Local Nature Reserve

Foundation

Studland Heath National Nature Reserve

Significant

Wareham Forest (Great Ovens)

Foundation

Winfrith Heath Nature Reserve

Partial

Alder Hills Nature Reserve

Partial

Sopley Common Nature Reserve

Significant

Upton Heath Nature Reserve

Significant

Holt Heath National Nature Reserve

Significant

Turnerspuddle Heath Nature Reserve

Foundation

Avon Heath Country Park

Foundation

Parley Common Nature Reserve

Significant

Moors Valley Country Park

Foundation

Dewlands Common Local Nature Reserve

Foundation

Stephens Castle Local Nature Reserve

Significant

Hengistbury Head Local Nature Reserve

Partial

Kinson Common Local Nature Reserve

Partial

Turbary Common Local Nature Reserve

Foundation

Canford Heath Local Nature Reserve

Significant

Bourne Valley Local Nature Reserve (Talbot Heath)

Significant

Godlingston Heath National Nature Reserve

Significant

Creech Heath National Nature Reserve

Foundation

Sandford Heath National Nature Reserve

Significant

Wareham Forest (Gore Heath)

Foundation

Wareham Forest (Northport Heath)

Significant

Wareham Forest (Woolsbarrow)

Significant

Wareham Forest (Carey Heath)

Foundation

Tadnoll Nature Reserve

Partial

Hethfelton Wood

Foundation

Purbeck Ridge (Whiteways Hill and Flowers Barrow)

Partial

Moreton Heath

Foundation

Puddletown Forest

Foundation

Affpuddle Forest

Foundation

Norden Heath and the Green Pool

Significant

Rempstone Heath

Significant

Brands Bay

Significant

Worgret Heath

Foundation

Furzebrook Heath

Partial

Jubilee Trail - Redbridge

Foundation

Slepe Heath

Foundation

Dunyeats Hill Nature Reserve

Foundation

Ferndown Common

Foundation

Wytch Heath

Partial

Corfe Barrows Nature Park

Significant

Blue Pool

Minority

Significant