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The Woodland Education Centre
The Heathland Restoration Project

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Ecological Surveys 1996 - 1998

Summary 2

Summary points 1-10  11-16  17-18  19-26

  • 11.      The results indicate that the vegetation on the Offwell project site is making slow but steady progress towards becoming a dry heath community. Heather and Bell Heather were both present and were gradually spreading on the site.
Regenerating Heather. Reseeding has not been necessary, as the Heather was regenerating naturally.

European Gorse was one of the most dominant species overall, while Western Gorse was just beginning to establish on the site.

  • 12.       Many other plants characteristic of heathland communities were also present on the project site. These included Bristle Bent, Tormentil, Heath Speedwell, and various sedges and rushes. Species indicators for acidic soils were present.
  • 13.       Mosses were increasing in importance in terms of abundance. Polytrichum formosum, which favours acid soils was the third most dominant plant overall in 1998. Other Polytrichum species more characteristic of heaths (P. juniperum and P.piliferum) will presumably colonize the area in time.

    Several other mosses characteristic of heathlands were also present. The presence of the moss, Brachythecium rutabulum, may indicate that the soil is currently more fertile than would be normal on an established heathland site.


Sections 1 - 4.
  • 14.       The northern sections of the project site (5 - 9) were the most favourable for the development of heath species.

    Sections 1 - 4 (left), still had many woodland species and were strongly influenced by bordering woodland. They showed little sign of regenerating heath vegetation.
  • 15.          Plant species diversity was higher on the project site than would normally be expected for a dry heath community. This reflects the fact that the site is in transition.
  • 16.          In 1997, all the sections were quite dissimilar in terms of the species present in them. This is a reflection of the extremely varied seed bank regenerating on the site. By 1998, the sections had many more species in common (although the abundance of each species in a particular section varied considerably).

    The increasing species similarity between sections resulted from the disappearance of species not suited to current conditions on the site, and the spread of those favoured by current conditions. (Current conditions are the result of both prevailing weather conditions and the management regime. )



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Ecological Surveys 96 - 98