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Information on common habitats

Acidic meadows and lowland heath

Since World War II, the UK has lost around 97% of its wildflower meadows due to changes in farming, development and lack of management.

Acidic meadows and lowland heath thrive on sandy, nutrient poor, acidic soils, this open habitat would have been maintained by fire and large grazing animals, or later on by man cutting wood and grazing their livestock.

Many of the species present on these sites can live nowhere else and to make matters worst, most are especially poor at travelling any real distance. Therefore, if sites are separated by as little as a few hundred metres, they become isolated. It is important we link sites wherever possible.

If sites are left unmanaged they soon become engulfed with young trees, and in as little as twenty years become lost to young woodland. The trees not only take away the open habitat required by the flora and fauna, but the leaf fall adds nutrients to the soil, encouraging more prolific plants such as nettle and bramble to thrive.

Worcestershire still has some good quality heath land and acidic meadows remaining. These include the Rifle Range Site of Special Scientific Interest, Burlish Top and Habberley Valley nature reserves, and Vicarage Farm Heath.

Wetlands

Wetlands is a term used to describe a variety of habitats including wet meadows, wet woodland and reed beds; generally occurring along the edges of rivers and streams. our district would have had vast tracts of these important habitats soaking up excess water during periods of flooding.

The lush, nutrient rich grasslands were once important grazing for fattening up of 'finishing' cattle This consequently controlled the dense grass growth and encouraged the development of beautiful wild flower meadows.

Over time farming practices changed, with the waterways becoming important transport routes. Wetlands were drained for development, consequently losing around 90% of the wetland habitat since the industrial revolution.

Of course, along with the loss of habitat goes the loss of flora and fauna associated with it!

It is vital that of these stunning habitats are to be enjoyed by future generations, that we work to maintain, improve and link up existing sites wherever possible.

If you would like more information, or would like to help manage these beautiful reserves, please contact our Ranger service by email or have a look at our volunteering opportunities.

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