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The Woodland Education Centre
The Heathland Restoration Project

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Ecological Survey 1999
Section 9 Description (Hand Weeded)


Section 9  September 1999 - Heather and gorse in the foreground. Section 9 is the largest section on the Heathland Restoration Project site. It is more than double the size of any of the other sections.

This section is really a section of two very different halves. The upper half (left) at the western end of the slope was dominated by Heather, Polytrichum formosum, grasses and typical heathland sedges, such as Pill Sedge and Green-ribbed Sedge.

Gorse (mid frame, left)  was generally neither very tall nor particularly widespread in this section.


Lower half of section 9 The lower half of the section (left) towards the bottom of the slope, was dominated by brambles, Bracken, rushes and sedges. There was some Heather here, although much less than in the upper half, together with a variety of tree species such cherry, birch and willow.

The lower half is much wetter and is marshy in places. It is likely that this area is wet because it is being affected by the spring line which is very evident in the neighbouring wet woodland area.


Bracken in section 9. Bracken (left) was quite widespread in this section, together with a variety of other ferns, such as Hard Fern and Narrow Buckler Fern.

Bluebells were also present earlier in the year, but had died back by the time of the July survey.


Bell Heather Bell Heather (left) had spread in this section and quite large clumps were now present in some areas.


Polytrichum formosum and Thuidium tamarascinum. Much of the ground layer in the upper half of the section was dominated by mosses, such as Polytrichum formosum (left - upright spikes) and Thuidium tamarascinum (left - fern-like growth form).

Polytrichum formosum had declined considerably in this section. In 1998, it was found in virtually every single quadrat, while in 1999, its % frequency had declined to only 64%.


Silver Birch in Section 9 The dominant species overall in this section was Silver Birch. Seedlings of this pioneer tree covered much of the area (left).


Purple Moor Grass. Purple Moor Grass  (left), which is a characteristic large, tussocky grass of wetter heaths, had become established in one small area of the lower half of this section.


Dominant Plants in Section 9 in 1999
with figures from 1998 for comparison.

Characteristic heath species are in bold print

Species Overall % frequency Mean % Cover (all quadrats)
1999 1998 1999 1998
Silver Birch 72 78 12 12
Heather 69 59 42 26
Polytrichum formosum 69 94 52 33
Bramble 66 69 17 10
Green-ribbed Sedge 56 53 12 8
Thuidium tamarascinum 53 53 27 7
Velvet Bent 47 13 12 2
Yorkshire Fog 41 47 9 5
Cherry 41 50 5 7
Hypnum jutlandicum 41 19 24 4
Pill Sedge 38 41 5 4
Eurhynchium praelongum 38 3 13 0.5
Common Bent 31 38 8 8
Soft Rush 31 22 10 2
European Gorse 28 25 8 6
Percentage frequency = the percentage of the total number of quadrats sampled over the whole site which contain the species. For example, a percentage frequency of 100%, means that the species was found in all quadrats sampled.


  • This section is the largest of all the differently managed sections with at least double the area of the next largest section. It is a section of two very different halves. Four years into the experimental management of the Heathland Restoration Project site, the upper western half of section 9 closely resembled a lowland heath habitat. This upper half was dominated by Silver Birch and Heather, intermingled with heath sedges, Bell Heather and Brambles. Open areas of ground were dominated by carpets of mosses such as Polytrichum formosum.
  • The lower half of the section, at the bottom of the slope was much wetter and marshy in places. This half was dominated by brambles, Bracken and rushes. Purple Moor grass had become established in one small patch in this lower half of the section.

Comparison with the previous year:

  • There was not a great deal of change in the dominant plants in this section over the year, with a few exceptions:
  • The amount of Heather increased.
  • Velvet Bent trebled in abundance in this section over the intervening year.
  • Moss cover also increased, with the amount of Eurhynchium praelongum and Hypnum jutlandicum (a heathland moss) increasing considerably.


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Ecological Survey 1999