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IPA Factsheet - Dorset Heaths and Studland Dunes
Site code
CountryUnited Kingdom
Administrative regionSouth West (Dorset)
Central co-ordinates50o 37' N / 2o 15' W map
Altitude8 - 165

 Site Description The two Dorset Heaths SACs, together with the New Forest (also in southern England), contain a large proportion of the total UK resource of lowland northern Atlantic wet heaths. The habitat is of the M16 Erica tetralix Sphagnum compactum wet heath type and occurs as well-developed transitions between dry heath and valley bog. This habitat type is important for rare plants, such as marsh gentian Gentiana pneumonanthe, brown beak-sedge Rhynchospora fusca and great sundew Drosera anglica. The wet heaths and mires are also important for scarce Odonata, such as small red damselfly Ceriagrion tenellum and the Annex II species 1044 Southern damselfly Coenagrion mercuriale. The sites are an important transitional area between the more oceanic heathlands of the south-west peninsula and the semi-continental heathlands of eastern England.The greatest concentration of Dorset heath Erica ciliaris in the UK is in Dorset on the heaths south of Poole Harbour, with outlying stands elsewhere in Dorset. Dorset Heaths (Purbeck and Wareham) and Studland Dunes has therefore been selected as it contains a high proportion of the total UK population of E. ciliaris.This site in southern England has extensive stands of lowland dry heath vegetation. The types include H2 Calluna vulgaris Ulex minor heath, H3 Ulex minor Agrostis curtisii heath and some areas of H4 Ulex gallii Agrostis curtisii heath. The communities are dominated by heather Calluna vulgaris growing in association with bell heather Erica cinerea and one of the dwarf gorse species dwarf gorse Ulex minor or western gorse U. gallii. The heaths are rich in rare plants, invertebrates, birds and reptiles. Both of the Dorset Heath SACs and the New Forest are in southern England. All three areas are selected because together they contain a high proportion of all the lowland European dry heaths in the UK. There are, however, significant differences in the ecology of the two areas, associated with more oceanic conditions in Dorset and the continuous history of grazing in the New Forest.The two Dorset Heaths cSACs, together with the New Forest, support a large proportion of the resource of Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporion within England. The habitat is widespread on the Dorset Heaths, both in bog pools of valley mires and in flushes. There are numerous valley mires within the Dorset Heaths, and the habitat type is most extensively represented here as part of a habitat mosaic. This location shows extensive representation of brown-beak sedge Rhynchospora fusca and is also important for great sundew Drosera anglica and bog orchid Hammarbya paludosa.The Dorset Heaths contain small pockets of wet woodland within valley mires but most of these appear to be of recent origin. However, at Morden Bog a Bog woodland stand is of ancient origin, as shown by its pollen record and old maps. The woodland is dominated by downy birch Betula pubescens with a ground flora consisting of greater tussock sedge Carex paniculata and purple moor-grass Molinia caerulea. There is a rich epiphytic lichen assemblage, again indicating the persistence of this area of bog woodland.

 Botanical Significance Identified for vascular, lichen, bryophyte and habitat interest.

 General Habitat Description Dorset Heaths & Studland Dunes is located in the South West of Dorset and comprises 2221.94 hectares of land. Dorset Heath consist of: Inland water bodies (standing water, running water) (4%) Bogs. Marshes. Water fringed vegetation. Fens (8%) Heath. Scrub. Maquis and garrigue. Phygrana (79%) Dry grassland. Steppes (1%) Broad-leaved deciduous woodland (1%) Coniferous woodland (1%) Mixed woodland (1%).

Land use

Land use% CoverLevel

Threatened Species

Species NameIPA Assess.Species Assess.AbundanceData qualityCriteria

Botanical Richness

EUNIS level 2 code & nameIPA Assess.Habitat Assess.% of indicator speciesNo. SpeciesNational BiotopeData qualityCriteria
D1 Raised & blanket bogs2016201600unknownB
C3 Littoral zone of inland surface water bodies2016201600unknownB
E1 Dry Grasslands2016201600unknownB
G1 Broadleaved deciduous woodland2012201200unknownB
F4 Temperate shrub heathland2012201200unknownB
B1 Coastal dune and sand habitats2012201200unknownB

Threatened Habitats

IPA Habitat code & nameIPA Assess.Habitat Assess.AreaData qualityCriteria
2110 Embryonic shifting dunes200720070unknownCii
2120 Shifting dunes along the shoreline with Ammophila arenaria (white dunes)20070unknownCii
4020* Temperate Atlantic wet heaths with Erica ciliaris and Erica tetralix*20070unknownCi
2150* Atlantic decalcified fixed dunes (Calluno-Ulicetea)*20070unknownCi
7150 Depressions on peat substrates of the Rhynchosporion20070unknownCii
4030 European dry heaths20070unknownCii
2190 Humid dune slacks20070unknownCii
3110 Oligotrophic waters containing very few minerals of sandy plains (Littorelletalia uniflorae)20070unknownCii
4010 Northern Atlantic wet heaths with Erica tetralix20070unknownCii
91D0* Bog woodland*20070unknownCi


DesignationProtected Area NameRelationship with IPAOverlap with IPA
Ramsar Wetland Site Dorset Heathlandsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestPoole Harbourprotected area overlaps with IPA3
Site of Special Scientific InterestStudland and Godlingston Heathsprotected area overlaps with IPA533
Site of Special Scientific InterestCorfe Meadowsprotected area overlaps with IPA89
Site of Special Scientific InterestRempstone Heathsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestHartland Moorprotected area overlaps with IPA274
Site of Special Scientific InterestArneprotected area overlaps with IPA428
Site of Special Scientific InterestBlue Pool and Norden Heathsprotected area overlaps with IPA89
Site of Special Scientific InterestBlashenwell Farm Pitprotected area overlaps with IPA11
Site of Special Scientific InterestThe Moorsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestStoborough and Creech Heathsprotected area overlaps with IPA337
Site of Special Scientific InterestCreech Grangeprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Site of Special Scientific InterestPovington and Grange Heathsprotected area overlaps with IPA40
Site of Special Scientific InterestPurbeck Ridge (West)protected area overlaps with IPA116
Special Area of ConservationDorset Heaths (Purbeck & Wareham) & Studland Dunesprotected area overlaps with IPA0
UnknownDorset Heaths and Forests IBAprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Area of Outstanding Natural BeautyDorsetprotected area overlaps with IPA0
National Nature ReserveArneprotected area overlaps with IPA0
National Nature ReserveStoborough Heathprotected area overlaps with IPA0
National Nature ReserveStudland Heathprotected area overlaps with IPA0
National Nature ReserveHartland Moorprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Special Protection AreaDorset Heathsprotected area overlaps with IPA0
Special Protection AreaPoole Harbourprotected area overlaps with IPA0
UnknownPoole Harbour IBAprotected area overlaps with IPA0


TypeDescriptionYear startedYear finishes



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