Our upland habitats

Our upland habitats


Posted 17th Nov 2017


Upland habitats will form the bulk of our wildest, most scenic and even romantic countryside

Serving as the setting for many atmospheric novels from Wuthering Heights to The Hound of the Baskervilles, uplands are open habitats of mountains, moors, heaths, bogs and rough grasslands. Many of our upland habitats will be found in Scotland, Wales and Northern England, but there are areas of moorland in South West England and Northern Ireland.

Though they seem wild, upland habitats have actually been shaped by us over thousands of years. Originally, these areas were covered in scrub and woodland, but a long history of clearing and burning vegetation has created the moorlands that we see today. Local people would use uplands for grazing livestock and gathering materials, while gorse was used for fires - bracken would be used for animal bedding, sand and gravel for building, while bilberries and fungi were used for food.

It was only the mountain peaks, rock faces, scree slopes and bogs where there's truly wilderness.

Upland habitats include acid grassland and marsh, heathland and peat bog. Wildlife-rich flushes will accompany the flowing water, with stands of bracken occurring on fells, and rocky outposts support scarce plants and offer nesting sites for birds of prey.

The wildlife associated with upland areas includes birds like ravens, peregrine falcons, red grouse, golden plovers, grey wagtails and wheatears, alongside mammals such as red deer, pine martens, wildcats and mountain hares. Typical plants include bell heather, ling heather, cross-leaved heath, bilberry, purple moor-grass and rowan trees.

Yet there are threats to our upland habitats, including deforestation and overgrazing, mineral and peat extraction, pollution, development and climate change. Across the UK many Wildlife Trusts work locally to look after specialist upland species and prevent further damage to the compelling places. Their work includes clearing encroaching scrub, reinstating grazing regimes and reseeding heathers - vital work if our uplands are to survive and maintain their wild character.

Typical upland wildlife includes:

Raven, buzzard, peregrine falcon, red grouse, golden plover, dipper, grey wagtail, meadow pipit, skylark, curlew, wheatear, bell heather, ling heather, cross-leaved heath, bilberry, crowberry, bracken, sphagnum moss, cotton grass, purple moor-grass, rowan, red deer, polecat, pine marten, wildcat, field vole, fox, mountain hare.

Text, image and information courtesy of The Wildlife Trusts





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