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1 Current status
Lowland heath is characterised by dwarf shrubs, such as heather and dwarf gorses. It
usually occurs below 300 metres. Habitats such as acid grassland, scrub and woodland
form part of heathland but dwarf shrubs such as heather dominate.
Lowland heath is a priority for nature conservation because it is a rare and threatened
habitat. The UK has some 94,000ha of lowland heath of which 58,000ha is found in
England. Only one sixth of the heathland present in England in 1800 now remains.
The UK has an important proportion (about 20%) of the international total of this habitat.
The total area of lowland heath in 2000 was 27.3ha, about 1ha of which has since
been lost to development. This represents only a tiny fraction of the UK resource (and
of the NW England total of 1397ha) but the 22.7ha of dune heath in North Merseyside
may be as much as 25% of the national total for this sub-type.
According to the most recent NVC survey of the coast (2004), 9.3ha of dune heath
occurs on Freshfield Dune Heath, Woodvale Airfield and Willow Bank Caravan Park
(mostly on Freshfield Dune Heath); 10.1ha occurs on Formby Golf Course; scattered
areas amounting to 2.2ha occur on Ainsdale Golf Course; and 1ha occurs on the
National Trust property at Larkhill. All of these areas are within the Sefton Coast
Lowland heath can be found in each district, on sandstone outcrops in Liverpool,
Knowsley and St Helens, on derelict land with acid soils in Liverpool and St Helens,
and on former mosslands in Knowsley and St Helens.