Heathlands are wide open landscapes dominated by low growing shrubs such as heather and gorse. The heathland in Hampshire is classified as ‘lowland heathland’, a diverse mosaic of dry, damp or wet habitats found up to 300m above sea level.
A defining characteristic of heathland is nutrient-poor acidic soil, often sandy and free draining. Few plants can flourish on these types of soil, which means that those species tolerant of these conditions have an advantage.
In contrast to higher altitude heather-moorland in northern England and Scotland, the climate on lowland heathland is milder. This has a significant effect on the kinds of plants and animals that can live there. In wetter areas, the acidic conditions create a unique habitat tolerated only by certain species and on coastal areas the harsh climate stunts tree growth.
See ‘heathland biodiversity' to find out about some of the interesting plants and animals you can find there.