Lowland Dry Acid Grassland

Lowland acid grassland typically occurs on nutrient-poor, generally free-draining soils with pH ranging from 4 to 5.5 overlying acid rocks or deposits such as sands and gravels.

Acid Grassland

Photo: Dawn Brickwood

Why is it important?

  • Tussocky vegetation and bare ground allow a wide range of often specialist invertebrates to thrive, including solitary wasps, butterflies and grasshoppers.
  • The low nutrient status makes acid grassland important for fungi, particularly waxcaps.
  • The infertile acid soils support a number of fine grasses and wild flowers, many of which are not found in other habitats.
  • It often supports important communities of mosses and lichens.

Lowland Dry Acid Grassland in Sussex

Sussex’s acid grasslands are predominantly made up of Sheep’s Fescue, Common Bent and Sheep’s Sorrel (National Vegetation Classification U1), and are characterised by low growing wild flowers and grasses, heather and gorse. There are just over 200 hectares of acid grassland in Sussex, much of which occurs in a mosaic with heathland or in small sites of less than five hectares.

What are the threats?

  • Agricultural intensification including use of fertilisers, reseeding and ploughing.
  • The biodiversity value of acid grassland is not always recognised, which can lead to targeting for tree-planting or development.
  • Lack of appropriate management allows scrub to dominate at the expense of finer herbs and grasses.
  • Recreation effects including disturbance of wildlife, compaction and erosion of soil, vegetation trampling and increased nutrients in soil.
  • Isolation and fragmentation of sites reduces dispersal opportunities making species more susceptible to extinction.

Some associated species

  • Adder Vipera berus
  • Skylark Alauda arvensis
  • Field Cricket Gryllus campestris
  • Small Heath Coenonympha pamphilus
  • Harebell Campanula rotundifolia
  • Tormentil Potentilla erecta

Adder

Photo: Laurie Jackson

Advice on lowland dry acid grassland

After Minerals
Buglife
Natural England
The Grasslands Trust
The Grazing Advice Partnership
Weald Meadows Initiative

Sussex Targets

Biodiversity Action Reporting System Website

Download the Lowland Dry Acid Grassland Habitat Action Plan