This dataset is a census of the heathland and associated vegetation from Dorset, UK. The Dorset heathlands are situated in South West England, and are generally associated with free-draining and acidic soils overlying Tertiary sands and gravels. The heathlands comprise a mosaic of different vegetation types, characterised by dwarf shrub communities dominated by members of the Ericaceae (e.g. Calluna vulgaris, Erica spp.), together with areas of mire, grassland, scrub and woodland. Unless they are managed heathlands undergo succession to scrub and woodland. Therefore the majority of heathland sites are currently under some form of conservation management, which is implemented to reduce succession to scrub and woodland. Management interventions include cutting and burning of vegetation, and grazing by livestock. Individual heathland patches are also managed for ecosystem services, such as recreation and timber production, as well as biodiversity conservation.
Publication date: 2015-08-27
In this survey the plot sample size of 4 ha (200 m x 200 m) is based on the National Ordnance Survey mapping grid. All those plots within the county boundary of Dorset that were known to contain some heathland vegetation (dry heath, humid heath, wet heath and mire) in 1978 were surveyed for the cover of all major vegetation types. These vegetation types were: dry heath; humid heath/wet heath; mire; brackish marsh; carr; scrub; hedges and boundaries; woodland; grassland; sand dunes; sand and clay; ditches, streams, rivers, pools, ponds; arable; urban; other land uses; bare ground. Within each plot, the cover of all vegetation types was estimated and recorded on a 3-point abundance scale (1 = 1-10 percent cover; 2 = 11-50 percent cover; 3 = greater than 50 percent cover). A total of 3110 plots were identified in 1978, and, following the initial survey, repeat surveys of all plots were done in 1987, 1996 and 2005. These data were converted into area estimates and the plots amalgamated into groups 'heaths' for this dataset.