Heathland is distinctive amongst British habitats in that it is dominated by low-growing shrubs, the heaths that give it its name, rather than by trees, grasses or herbaceous plants.
Heathlands are man-made habitats. They only persist if they are managed. The lowland heaths of southern England would quickly become woodland if no grazing occurred. They were probably created as forest clearance began several thousand years ago to make way for crops. Primitive farming techniques could not prevent the leaching of nutrients, rain washing the nutrients out of sandy soil. Crops failed, the land was abandoned and these poor soils provided a fine habitat for the heathers.Read More: Lowland Heaths of Southern England