Effects of grazing on heathland: evidence of benefits from a controlled experiment

In 2011, as part of a wider project monitoring different heathland-management approaches, livestock were introduced to Chobham Common, one of the largest remaining heathlands within the Thames Basin Heaths. In this article, Jonathan Cox and Clive Bealey discuss how grazing has impacted heathland vegetation at Chobham Common, and the implication of these results for heathland management in general. The

‘By a fayre down’, the breck heaths of the West Midlands

Clive Chatters explores the Kidderminster heaths of the West Midlands, describing their history and rich variety of plant and invertebrate life.  Around 1540 the antiquarian John Leland rode from Kidderminster to Bewdley by way of a ‘fayre down, but somewhat barren’. This is the earliest description we have of a heathland landscape that occupied the eastern flanks

Habitat fragmentation and the New Forest

The New Forest remains the most extensive heathland landscape in Britain, but it has nevertheless suffered greatly from habitat degradation over recent centuries. Clive Chatters and Catherine McGuire review the pattern of habitat fragmentation in the Forest from the 19th century to the present day, and examine how this has affected wildlife. The New Forest

Comment: Pressure mounts against the continuing use of lead ammunition

There are growing calls to phase out the use of lead-based ammunition because of the known negative impacts of lead ingestion on the health of humans and wild animals. Ian Newton provides a summary of what is currently known about the effects of lead in the environment. Lead ammunition is still widely used for game-hunting

Diapensia: mystery on the mountain

This summer sees the publication of the author’s Mountain Flowers, some 60 years after the seminal book of the same name was published in the New Naturalist series. Here, Michael Scott focusses on one intriguing plant whose appearance in the Highlands is shrouded in Mystery. On 5th July 1951, just a few weeks after I was born,

The Heath Potter Wasp: a detailed study

After six years of close observation, the author is able to paint a detailed picture of the engineering skills of this solitary wasp.  The Heath Potter Wasp Eumenes coarctatus is a fascinating inhabitant of heathlands in southern England. It belongs to the solitary-wasp family Eumenidae, all of which use mud to construct their nests. Of

Landscape-scale conservation in the Meres and Mosses

A Government-led landscape-scale initiative aims to create a step change in nature conservation. But what does this mean in practice? Using one of the recently designated Nature Improvement Areas as an example, the author tests the initiative’s principles. In 2010, Professor Sir John Lawton was commissioned by the Government to undertake a review of nature

Reserve Focus: Chobham Common National Nature Reserve

Chobham Common NNR is an extraordinarily large, diverse and species-rich area of heathland lying on each side of the M3 in north-west Surrey, barely 20 miles from the centre of London. It is heavily visited, with large areas of housing nearby, yet it retains an enormous range of species and is large enough to provide

The end of feral wallabies in the Peak District

Alien species are of considerable conservation concern because of the impact some of them have on other fauna and flora. Among mammals in Britain, Grey Squirrels Sciurus carolinensis, American Mink Neovison vison and Reeve's Muntjac Muntiacus reevesi are major problem species. Some aliens, though, seem relatively benign, and they do not always become pests. The Red-necked Wallaby Macropus ruforiseus seems, in Europe at

The Upper Teesdale Assemblage of rare plants in decline

During the discovery and naming of the plants in the British Isles in the 18th and 19th centuries, botanists became aware of a small number of localities that were particularly rich in rare species. These remarkable areas include Upper Teesdale in northern England, Ben Lawers in the Central Highlands of Scotland, the Burren, Co. Clare,

Deer in the Peak District and its urban fringe

Studies of British deer populations began in earnest with the problems of over-population of Red Deer Cervus elaphus in the Highlands and Islands. However, in recent decade, the issue of rapidly expanding populations of deer in Great Britain has received much attention. 

The restoration of Thorne and Hatfield Moors

Thorne and Hatfield Moors is the collective name for Thorne Waste, Snaith and Cowick Moor, Rawcliffe, Goole and Crowle Moors, and Hatfield Moors, the two largest lowland raised bogs in Britain and situated mainly in south-east Yorkshire, with parts in north Lincolnshire, as the head of the Humber estuary. 

The importance of Breckland for biodiversity

Breckland, covering 1,020km2 of eastern England, has a rich and unique assemblage of wildlife, which includes Mediterranean and continental steppe species found nowhere else in the UK, as well as heathland and coastal rarities. Whilst the region has long been known for its amazing natural history, more recently it has been overlooked: 'it fascinates but few, but those

The south-west Dartmoor downs

'Carex montana… Bickleigh Down; scattered over a considerable portion of the common (several acres), and associated with its allies, C. pilulifera and C.praecox [caryophyllea], as well as with… Viola lactea… destroyed by the cultivation of the down about 1878' With this record, the great Plymouth botanist T R Archer Briggs added a highly significant species both to his own Flora of

Black Grouse recovery in northern England

The Black Grouse Tetrao tetrix is one of our most charismatic upland birds and is famous for its 'lekking' behaviour, in which the males gather at traditional sites at dawn and, with elaborate posturing and vocalisation, challenge each other with the purpose of attracting females. 

The flowering of Cross Fell: montane vegetation and foot-and-mouth

Facing each other across across the Eden valley, the gentle rounded outlines of the north Pennines contrast starkly with the frowning cliffs and steep-sided valleys of the Lakeland hills to the west. Whilst Lakeland hills are a confused jumble of metamorphic and igneous rocks, deeply scored by glacial action, the north Pennines are an essentially

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