The Ecology of British Upland Landscapes. I. Composition of Landscapes, Habitats, Vegetation and Species

Open access

Abstract

A primary requirement for policy objectives is reliable figures on the composition of any region. Currently there is no comprehensive, definitive set of statistics for the British Uplands, hence the present paper. An overview of the background to the region is first provided, together with some examples of the available figures and a discussion of their limitations. The paper uses a formal structure, with landscapes at the highest level followed by habitats, then vegetation, and finally species, with exact definitions of the categories applied at all levels. The figures are produced from a survey of stratified, random one kilometre squares. The tables give comprehensive figures for Great Britain (GB) as a whole, and also England, Wales and Scotland.

The Uplands are shown to cover 38 % of the country. In terms of UK Broad Habitats, Bog is the most common overall (2062 k ha). It is estimated that 41 % of upland vegetation in Britain is grazed by sheep, and Cervus elephus (red deer) are particularly evident in Scotland. Walls (mainly drystone) are the most important linear feature (84 k km) but hedgerows (30 k km) are also widespread. The major vegetation classes are those linked to moorlands and bogs (about 25 %) but those associated with fertile soils are also common (10 %). In terms of species, Potentilla erecta (tormentil) is the most frequent species with four other acid grassland species in the top ten. Calluna vulgaris (ling heather) has the highest cover in Great Britain (14.8 %).

If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.

  • Averis A. Averis B. Birks J. Horsfield D. Thompson D. & Yeo M. (2004). Illustrated guide to British upland vegetation. Exeter: Joint Nature Conservation Committee Pelagic Publishing.

  • Bain C. (2013). The Ancient Pinewoods of Scotland Dingwall: Sandstone Press Ltd.

  • Baudry J. & Bunce R. G. H. (Eds.). (1991). Land abandonment and its role in conservation. (Options Mediterraneennes. Serie A. Seminaires Mediterraneennes no.15): Zaragoza: Centre International de Hautes Etudes Agronomiques Mediterraneennes.

  • Berry P. Dawson T. Harrison P. & Pearson R. (2002). Modelling potential impacts of climate change on the bioclimatic envelope of species in Britain and Ireland. Global ecology and biogeography 11(6) 453-462. doi: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1466-8238.2002.00304.x.

  • Brown M. J. Bunce R. G. H. Carey P. D. Chandler K. Crowe A. Maskell L. C. Norton L. R. Scott R. J. Scott W. A. Smart S. M. Stuart R. C. Wood C. M. & Wright S. M. (2014a). Countryside Survey 2007 estimates of Broad Habitat areas in Great Britain. doi:10.5285/f03cba75-8bca-4679-ae2a-77a9fcbd4df3: NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.

  • Brown M. J. Bunce R. G. H. Carey P. D. Chandler K. Crowe A. Maskell L. C. Norton L. R. Scott R. J. Scott W. A. Smart S. M. Stuart R. C. Wood C. M. & Wright S. M. (2014b). Countryside Survey 2007 estimates of linear feature lengths in Great Britain. doi:10.5285/e687330b-a0f7-45a1-b58c-398e67da3028: NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.

  • Brown M. J. Bunce R. G. H. Carey P. D. Chandler K. Crowe A. Maskell L. C. Norton L. R. Scott R. J. Scott W. A. Smart S. M. Stuart R. C. Wood C. M. & Wright S. M. (2016). Landscape area data 2007 [Countryside Survey]. doi:10.5285/bf189c57-61eb-4339-a7b3-d2e81fdde28d: NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.

  • Bunce R. Bogers M. Ortega M. Morton D. Allard A. Prinz M. Peterseil J. Elena-Rossello R. & Jongman R. (2012). Conversion of European habitat data sources into common standards: Alterra.

  • Bunce R. G. H. (1978). UK Ecological Survey. Handbook of Field Methods. Grange-over-Sands: Insitute of Terrestrial Ecology.

  • Bunce R. G. H. (1979). Ecological survey of Britain Annual Report of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology (Vol. 1978 pp. 74-75). Cambridge: Institute of Terrestrial Ecology.

  • Bunce R. G. H. (1987). The extent and composition of upland areas in Great Britain. Paper presented at the In: Agriculture and conservation in the hills and uplands edited by M.Bell & R.G.H.Bunce 19-21. (ITE symposium no.23). Grange-over-Sands: Institute of Terrestrial Ecology.

  • Bunce R. G. H. (1999). A framework for the analysis of cultural landscapes in Europe In: Nature and culture in landscape ecology: experience for the 3rd millenium edited by P. Kovar 69-73. CZ-IALE (Regional Organisation of the International Association for Landscape Ecology of the Czech Republic).

  • Bunce R. G. H. Barr C. J. Clarke R. T. Howard D. & Scott A. (2007). ITE Land Classification of Great Britain 2007. doi:10.5285/5f0605e4-aa2a-48ab-b47c-bf5510823e8f: NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.

  • Bunce R. G. H. Barr C. J. Gillespie M. K. & Howard D. C. (1996). The ITE Land Classification: providing an environmental stratification of Great Britain. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 39 39-46. doi: 10.1007/978-94-009-1653-1_5.

  • Bunce R. G. H. Barr C. J. Gillespie M. K. Howard D. C. Scott W. A. Smart S. M. Van de Poll H. M. & Watkins J. W. (1999a). Vegetation of the British countryside - the Countryside Vegetation System. Grange-over-Sands Institute of Terrestrial Ecology. (ECOFACT Volume 1).

  • Bunce R. G. H. Carey P. D. Maskell L. C. Norton L. R. Scott R. J. Smart S. M. & Wood C. M. (2014a). Countryside Survey 2007 vegetation plot data. https://doi.org/10.5285/57f97915-8ff1-473b-8c77-2564cbd747bc NERC Environmental Information Data Centre.

  • Bunce R. G. H. Smart S. M. van de Poll H. M. Watkins J. W. & Scott W. A. (1999b). Measuring change in British vegetation. ECOFACT volume 2. Huntingdon Institute of Terrestrial Ecology.

  • Bunce R. G. H. Wood C. M. & Smart S. M. (2018). The Ecology of British Upland Landscapes. II. The influence of policy on the current character of the Uplands and the potential for change. Journal of Landscape Ecology 11 (3) DOI: 10.2478/jlecol-2018-0016.

  • Bunce R. G. H. Wood C. M. Smart S. M. Oakley R. Browning G. Daniels M. J. Ashmole P. Cresswell J. & Holl K. (2014b). The landscape ecological impact of afforestation on the British uplands and some initiatives to restore native woodland cover. Journal of Landscape Ecology 7(2) 5-24. doi: https://doi.org/10.2478/jlecol-2014-0013.

  • Carey P. D. Wallis S. Chamberlain P. M. Cooper A. Emmett B. A. Maskell L. C. McCann T. Murphy J. Norton L. R. Reynolds B. Scott W. A. Simpson I. C. Smart S. M. & Ullyett J. M. (2008). Countryside Survey: UK Results from 2007. Lancaster: NERC/Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

  • Clother L. & Finch E. (2010). Farming in the English uplands Defra Agricultural Change and Environment Observatory Research Report No 20. London.

  • Clutton-Brock T. Coulson T. & Milner J. (2004). Red deer stocks in the Highlands of Scotland. Nature 429(6989) 261. doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/429261a.

  • Davies G. M. Kettridge N. Stoof C. R. Gray A. Ascoli D. Fernandes P. M. Marrs R. Allen K. A. Doerr S. H. & Clay G. D. (2016). The role of fire in UK peatland and moorland management: the need for informed unbiased debate. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 371(1696) 20150342. doi: https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2015.0342.

  • Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (2018). Annual statistics on the number of livestock in England and the UK in June and December. Retrieved October 17 2018 from https://www.gov.uk/government/statistical-data-sets/structure-of-the-livestock-industry-in-england-at-december.

  • European Commission (1992). Council Directive 92/43/EEC of 21 May 1992 on the conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora. Brussels Belgium.

  • European Commission. (2018). Less favoured areas scheme. Retrieved October 17 2018 https://ec.europa.eu/agriculture/rural-development-previous/2007-2013/less-favoured-areas-scheme_en.

  • Evans D. Morrison-Bell C. McCracken D. & Thompson D. (2017). The Uplands: Onwards and Upwards. BES Bulletin 48(4) 46-47.

  • Flyn C. (2017). Winterkill Granta (Vol. 142). London Granta Publications.

  • Fuller R. & Gough S. (1999). Changes in sheep numbers in Britain: implications for bird populations. Biological Conservation 91(1) 73-89. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(99)00039-7.

  • Gill R. & Morgan G. (2010). The effects of varying deer density on natural regeneration in woodlands in lowland Britain. Forestry 83(1) 53-63. doi: https://doi.org/10.1093/forestry/cpp031.

  • Hill M. O. Evans D. F. & Bell S. A. (1992). Long-Term Effects of Excluding Sheep from Hill Pastures in North Wales. Journal of Ecology 80(1) 1-13. doi: 10.2307/2261058.

  • Hill M. O. & Šmilauer P. (2005). TWINSPAN for Windows version 2.3. Wallingford: Centre for Ecology and Hydrology University of South Bohemia.

  • Hodge I. & Monk S. (2004). The economic diversity of rural England: stylised fallacies and uncertain evidence. Journal of Rural Studies 20(3) 263-272. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jrurstud.2003.11.004.

  • House J. I. Orr H. G. Clark J. M. Gallego-Sala A. V. Freeman C. Prentice I. C. & Smith P. (2010). Climate change and the British Uplands: evidence for decision-making. Climate Research 45 3-12. doi: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr00982.

  • Jackson D. (2000). Guidance on the Interpretation of the Biodiversity Broad Habitat Classification (Terrestrial and Freshwater Types): Definitions and the Relationship with Other Habitat Classifications (JNCC Report No 307) Vol. Report no. 307 pp. 73pp. Published online http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-2433:JNCC.

  • JNCC (2012). Biodiversity Action Reporting System. Retrieved October 17 2018 from http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20120310132550/https://ukbars.defra.gov.uk//plans/national.asp?S=&L=1&O=&SAP=&HAP=&submitted=1.

  • Maddock A. (2008). UK Biodiversity Action Plan; Priority Habitat Descriptions UK Biodiversity Action Plan 94pp. Published online http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/PDF/UKBAP_PriorityHabitatDesc-Rev2011.pdf.

  • Maskell L. C. Norton L. R. Smart S. M. Carey P. D. Murphy J. Chamberlain P. M. Wood C. M. Bunce R. G. H. & Barr C. J. (2008). Countryside Survey. Field Mapping Handbook CS Technical Report No. 1/07. Lancaster: Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

  • Metzger M. J. Bunce R. G. H. Jongman R. H. G. Mücher C. A. & Watkins J. W. (2005). A climatic stratification of the environment of Europe. Global Ecology and Biogeography 14(6) 549-563. doi: 10.1111/j.1466-822X.2005.00190.x.

  • Monbiot G. (2017a 11th January 2017). Explanation of the Figures in Grim Reaping Retrieved October 17 2018 from https://www.monbiot.com/2017/01/11/explanation-of-the-figures-in-grim-reaping/.

  • Monbiot G. (2017b 06/01/2017). The new year brings challenges – but here’s to a hopeful 2017 The Guardian.

  • Murray D. A. (2007). The pony’s tale: native breeds under threat Independent. Retrieved August 2 2007 from https://www.independent.co.uk/environment/nature/the-ponys-talenative-breeds-under-threat-5334361.html.

  • Norton L. R. Maskell L. C. Smart S. M. Dunbar M. J. Emmett B. A. Carey P. D. Williams P. Crowe A. Chandler K. Scott W. A. & Wood C. M. (2012). Measuring stock and change in the GB countryside for policy: key findings and developments from the Countryside Survey 2007 field survey. Journal of Environmental Management 113 117-127. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2012.07.030.

  • Pearsall W. H. (1950). Mountains and moorlands. London: Collins.

  • Ratcliffe D. & Thompson D. (1988). The British uplands: their ecological character and international significance. Ecological change in the uplands 9-36.

  • Reed M. Bonn A. Slee W. Beharry-Borg N. Birch J. Brown I. Burt T. Chapman D. Chapman P. & Clay G. (2009). The future of the uplands. Land use policy 26 S204-S216. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2009.09.013.

  • RSPB (2007). The Uplands. Time to Change? Sandy Bedfordshire.

  • Scottish Government (2016). Scottish Agricultural Census. Retrieved January 7 2016 from http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Statistics/Browse/Agriculture-Fisheries/PubScottishCensus.

  • Sheail J. & Bunce R. G. H. (2003). The development and scientific principles of an environmental classification for strategic ecological survey in the United Kingdom. Environmental Conservation 30(2) 147-159. doi: 10.1017/S0376892903000134.

  • Smith E. W. Crockett J. & McCoard S. (2012). Public perception survey of wildness in Scotland: Report for Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority Cairngorms National Park Authority & Scottish Natural Heritage In Association With Research Now Edinburgh: Scottish Natural Heritage.

  • Stockdale A. Findlay A. & Short D. (2000). The repopulation of rural Scotland: opportunity and threat. Journal of Rural Studies 16(2) 243-257. doi: https://doi.org/10.1016/S0743-0167(99)00045-5.

  • Wood C. M. & Bunce R. G. H. (2016). Survey of the terrestrial habitats and vegetation of Shetland 1974 – a framework for long-term ecological monitoring. Earth Syst. Sci. Data 8(1) 89-103. doi: 10.5194/essd-8-89-2016.

  • Wood C. M. Bunce R. G. H. Norton L. R. Maskell L. C. Smart S. M. Scott W. A. Henrys P. A. Howard D. C. Wright S. M. Brown M. J. Scott R. J. Stuart R. C. & Watkins J. W. (2018). Ecological landscape elements: long-term monitoring in Great Britain the Countryside Survey 1978–2007 and beyond. Earth Syst. Sci. Data 10(2) 745-763. doi: 10.5194/essd-10-745-2018.

  • Wood C. M. Smart S. M. Bunce R. G. H. Norton L. R. Maskell L. C. Howard D. C. Scott W. A. & Henrys P. A. (2017). Long-term vegetation monitoring in Great Britain – the Countryside Survey 1978–2007 and beyond. Earth Syst. Sci. Data 9(2) 445-459. doi: 10.5194/essd-9-445-2017.

Search
Journal information
Impact Factor
CiteScore 2018: 0.45

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.183
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.233

Metrics
All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 0 0 0
Full Text Views 205 205 18
PDF Downloads 163 163 5