British hygrophilous oak forests (Quercus petraea, Quercus robur) with Molinia caerulea, alternating with birch carrs (Betula pubescens) with Myrica gale, Erica tetralix, Narthecium ossifragum and valley bogs
Great Britain: North Yorkshire Moors, south England
Scientific names of main plant communities and their most common synonyms (with author citation)
W4 Betula pubescens-Molinia caerulea woodland (Rodwell 1991a); W16 Quercus-Betula-Deschampsia woodland, moist formations (Rodwell 1991a); W17 Quercus petraea-Betula pubescens-Dicranum majus woodland (Rodwell 1991a); M16 Erica tetralix-Sphagnum compactum wet heath (Rodwell 1991b); M21 Narthecium ossifragum-Sphagnum papillosum valley bog (Rodwell 1991b).
Structural feature of the main community(ies) (layers, life-forms, etc.)
Mosaic of hygrophilous oak forests (Quercus petraea, Quercus robur on heavier soils) and birch carrs (Betula pubescens on wetter, Betula pendula on dry sites). Locally a shrub layer of Salix cinerea, Sorbus aucuparia and Ilex aquifolium. Depending on soil humidity, base and nutrient deficiency, and water balance the herb layer may be dominated by Ericaceae species, grasses, rushes or mosses. Wet heaths and fens on acidic and water-logged sites are characterised by Ericaceae, sedges and sphagnum mosses.
Dominant and most frequent species in different layers
Quercus petraea, Quercus robur, Betula pubescens, Betula pendula
Salix cinerea, Sorbus aucuparia, Ilex aquifolium, Myrica gale
Rubus fruticosus agg.
Molinia caerulea, Deschampsia flexuosa, Calluna vulgaris, Potentilla erecta, Dryopteris dilatata, Holcus mollis; on wet locations: Erica tetralix, Narthecium ossifragum, Eriophorum angustifolium, Eriophorum vaginatum, Drosera rotundifolia, Hydrocotyle vulgaris, Viola palustris, Carex nigra, Juncus effusus, Juncus acutiflorus, Cirsium palustre
Moss layer (incl. lichens)
Pohlia nutans, Scleropodium purum, Mnium hornum, Eurhynchium praelongum; on wet locations: Aulacomnium palustre, Sphagnum fallax, Sphagnum papillosum, Sphagnum palustre, Sphagnum fimbriatum, Sphagnum denticulatum, Sphagnum cuspidatum, Sphagnum subnitens, Sphagnum compactum
Diagnostically important species
Quercus petraea, Quercus robur, Betula pubescens; Myrica gale; Molinia caerulea, Erica tetralix, Dryopteris carthusiana, Narthecium ossifragum; Sphagnum papillosum, Sphagnum compactum, Sphagnum subnitens, Sphagnum fimbriatum
Geographical variants (geogr. differential species)
Natural accompanying vegetation (most important units in complex with the name giving mapping unit, scientific names)
In acidic and very wet areas heath and valley mires occur in addition to birch carrs (cf. point 'stand structure'); Caricion nigrae small sedge swamps.
Adjoining climax and permanent vegetation (with numbers of mapping units)
coastal heaths (E11), mixed oak-ash forests (F31, F32), species-rich beech forests (F104, F105), dune vegetation (P6), salt vegetation (P23), alluvial forests (U7).
Land use, substitute communities
forestry (substitute communities, plantations of economic tree-species, scrub)
Extensive conifer forestry, the seedlings of which also extend to the non-afforested areas of the heaths.
grassland (meadows, pastures, herb-rich communities)
Extensive sheep pastures with Nardo-Galion and Thero-Airion grassland; also Ulex and Vaccinium heaths. In the North Yorkshire Moors the occurrences of this unit are repeatedly burned off for grouse shooting in order to support the regeneration of heath and to prevent the growth of trees.
arable land (characteristic weed communities)
settlements (typical ruderal vegetation)
Site conditions of the mapping unit
Landscape type, geomorphology
Coastal lowlands and low, shallow-undulating hilly country
Altitudinal belt and/or altitudinal range
lowland to colline
base-poor rocks: slate, sandstone, granite, gneiss; peat; (Tertiary, Cretaceous, Jurassic, Permian, Devonian, Carboniferous)
soil type, also the depth of fine textured earth (soil), stone content; (international nomenclature)
gleyed podzoles and fens; (humic gleysols; orthic and gleyic podzols; dystric histosols)
sandy, silty; fen peat
soil moisture, water balance
stagnating moist to wet
strongly acidic to acidic
Climate incl. local climate
climate type (following Walter & Lieth)
V(IV), V(VI)2, VI2, VI(V)2, VI(X)
average annual temperature
average annual precipitation
average temperature of the warmest month
July 18-20 EC
average temperature of the coldest month
February 3-6 EC
local climate or other climatic peculiarities
120-180 days of rain per year; mostly free of frosts.
Importance for nature protection
Present state and development trend of natural vegetation (degree of endangerment)
Mainly degraded to heaths or coniferous plantations, protected only occasionally as semi-natural stands.
endangered communities, species worthy of protection in natural vegetation
Bogs, Ulicion and Ericion tetralicis heaths and nearly natural forests are especially worthy of protection due to the occurrence of Dryopteris cristata, Erica ciliaris, Gentiana pneumonanthe, Lycopodiella inundata, Rhynchospora fusca, Agrostis curtisii, Hammarbya paludosa.
causes of endangerment
Drainage, burning off, grazing, afforestation, recreational use.
required measures for protection and restitution
Control and restriction of agricultural use, afforestation and recreational use.
Localities of representative stands (loci typici) with state of protection
of the natural vegetation
Great Britain: Thursley Warren, New Forest, Dorset heaths, Devonian Commons, Bodmin Moor and Exmoor.
of characteristic substitute communities worthy of protection
Included in regions mentioned above.
Most important references (author, year)
Bellamy & Rose 1961; Birse 1980; Birse 1984; Daniels 1978; Gimingham 1964a; Ivimey-Cook & Proctor 1966; Ivimey-Cook, Proctor & Rowland 1975; McVean 1956; Newbould 1960; Poore 1956; Rankin 1911a; Rodwell (Ed.) 1991a; Rodwell (Ed.) 1991b; Rose 1953; Rutter 1955; Tansley (Ed.) 1911; Wheeler 1980b; Williams & Lambert 1959
J.S. Rodwell; revised by J.R. Cross and J. Pallas