Geographia Polonica (1972) vol. 24

The management of heathlands for amenity purposes in South-East England

Edward M. Yates

Geographia Polonica (1972) vol. 24, pp. 227-240 | Full text

The heathlands of south-east England may be grouped into those associatedwith certain high-level areas of Chalk outcrop, and those associated with sandysoils. The first group, found on soils that, though developed on the Chalk, havebeen largely decalcified, is now limited in extent since the plough-up campaignof the Second World War. An example of this so-called chalk heath at Lullington,Sussex, is now a nature reserve: the example described by A. G. Tansley 1is now wooded and part of the Queen Elizabeth Forest, Hampshire. Thesecond group is much more considerable in extent, occupying soils formedon a great variety of sandy formations, such as the Aptian Hythe Beds andFolkestone Beds, the Ypresian Bagshot Beds, and Pleistocene sands andgravels. Such heaths were used by agricultural communities for rough grazingand as a source of fuel for hundreds of years: their plant cover shows theimpact of these long-continued practices. These forms of usage as part of anagricultural system are now considerably reduced or have totally disappeared,and the thousands of hectares of surviving heathland in south-east Englandare of greatest value as an amenity, forming the majority of those parts of thecountryside to which the public have complete access. The cessation of managementfor agricultural purposes and the increased use for amenity havecombined to initiate considerable changes in the vegetation and to raise newproblems of management. The changes may have been a little accelerated bythe destruction of the rabbit population by myxomatosis, but were in progresslong before.

Edward M. Yates, King's College, University of London