Lowland Heath

What is it?

Lowland heathland is a largely open habitat on shallow peaty or poor mineral soils. It is characterised by heathers and dwarf gorse, sometimes with associated scattered clumps of trees or scrub, bracken, bare ground, grassland bog or open water because it is such a dynamic habitat.

The habitat is not common in Scotland. It occurs as distinctive patches of heathy, near-natural vegetation within the enclosed agricultural lowlands, generally in those parts of the country where the climate is wet by lowland standards and where the quality of agricultural land is poor. Lowland heaths are most likely to be set in a matrix of rough grazing, poor-quality, rush-infested pasture, former industrial workings such as mines and quarries and small conifer plantations than within tracts of agricultural land or rich pasture.

What’s special about it?

A wide range of species are associated with lowland heathland including birds such as stonechat and whinchat, reptiles such as common lizard and slowworm, invertebrates such as marsh fritillary and northern brown argus butterflies, plants such as lesser butterfly orchid, mosses and lichens. They are islands of natural vegetation and species diversity within more intensively managed landscapes.

How do we benefit?


How could development affect it?

Pressure from agricultural development, diversification and improvement. However the habitat does benefit from light grazing which keeps woodland and scrub development to a minimum.

Find out more>>

UKBAP list of priority habitats

Scottish Natural Heritage

Natural England