Calcareous grasslands

Calcareous grasslands are only found where the limestone outcrops as a thin band across the National Park and isolated outcrops elsewhere. They are typically managed as tightly grazed pasture supporting sheep, cattle or sometimes horses. Calcareous grassland sites occur in both enclosed and unenclosed situations and within the National Park are also found immediately around areas of limestone pavement. The cover of lowland calcareous grassland has suffered a sharp decline in extent over the last 50 years, particularly as lowland areas have been modified by agriculture to be more productive. This has enabled more animals to graze, but also excluded many species of wildflower.

Lowland calcareous grasslands support a very rich flora including many nationally rare and scarce species while it also supports birds and butterflies like the common blue. Hawthorn, blackthorn or gorse scrub is often found on or around calcareous grasslands and this can encourage more wildlife by providing shelter for invertebrates, reptiles and birds.

Explore more grassland and farmland habitats by using the navigation bar on the left.