Heathland and peatland

Priority habitats: Lowland heathland, Lowland raised bog and Lowland dry acid grassland.

The area’s heathland and peatland resource stretches from the coversands in the north-west, around Scunthorpe, to the fen-edge sands and gravels in Woodhall Spa. These little-known heaths form an extraordinary mosaic of heather, mire and inland sand dunes. The peatlands of Greater Lincolnshire have been extensively exploited in the past, but still remain rich in wildlife as well as ecological history. Raised bog in the area is confined to the extreme north-west in the Isle of Axholme: Crowle Moors and Epworth Turbary and Haxey Turbary are the remnants of the vast complex of moor, bog and fen that once surrounded the water-logged head of the Humber Estuary.

These habitats have been vastly reduced over the last century, with a falling water table, agricultural intensification, urbanisation, and extraction of sand, gravel and peat all playing a role. Recent conservation work through the Coversands Heathland Project (2001-2009) helped to reduce fragmentation of these habitats; populations of typical heathland species have been maintained and, in some locations, have strengthened their strongholds. There are a number of UK Priority species occurring on the heathland and peatland of Greater Lincolnshire, including woodlark and nightjar. Reptiles such as the adder and common lizard are in decline  in the area and are increasingly confined to heathland and peatland habitats.

Vision for Greater Lincolnshire's heathland and peatland:

  • Existing heaths and lowland acid grasslands have been extended and are managed in a favourable way, with livestock where possible.
  • Heathlands and lowland acid grasslands have been re-created on a landscape scale in areas where this habitat had become fragmented or lost altogether – corridors and stepping stones have been created, and core areas buffered.
  • Remaining peatland habitats are protected and have been extended where possible, with management carefully planned to benefit priority species.
  • Heathland, acid grassland and peatland sites are appreciated by the public as places to visit to relax and see wildlife.
  • No further loss from the area of species that depend upon heathland, peatland and acid grassland habitats.
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