Mendips header
 
 Home
 Overview maps
 Locality areas
  Cheddar Gorge
 Charterhouse
 Blackdown
 Burrington Combe
 Shipham & Rowberrow
 Crook Peak & Axbridge
 Banwell to Churchill
 Priddy
 Harptree & Smitham Hill
 Draycott & Westbury-sub
 -Mendip
 Wookey Hole & Ebbor
 Gorge
 Wells
 Great Elm & Vallis Vale
 Mells & the Wadbury Valley
 The Vobster area
 The Whatley area
 Torr Works & Asham Wood
 Beacon Hill
 Stoke St Michael & Oakhill
 Holwell & Nunney
 Shepton Mallet & Maesbury
 Gurney Slade & Emborough
 The Nettlebridge valley
 Geology
 Rocks of Mendips
 Fossils
 Geological timescale
 Ancient environments
 Geological structure
 Minerals and mines
  Minerals and mines
 Industrial archaeology
 Quarrying
  Stone as a resource
 Employment & the economy
 Quarrying & geodiversity
 Quarrying & the environment
 History of quarrying
 Caves and karst
 How caves form
 Dry valleys and gorges
 Dolines and sinkholes
 Mendip caves
 Going caving
 Hydrogeology
 Biodiversity
  Flora and fauna
 Typical Mendip habitats
 Special Mendip habitats
 Horseshoe bats
 Appendix of names
 Biodiversity of western
 Mendip
 Biodiversity of eastern
 Mendip
 External links
 Detailed site information
  Coal mining
  Mendip quarry companies
  East Mendip quarries
 Biodiversity of eastern
 Mendip
  West Mendip quarries
 Biodiversity of western
 Mendip
 Acknowledgements
 Site map
Typical Mendip habitats
Introduction | Unimproved limestone grassland | Acid dwarf-shrub heath | Ash woodland

Introduction

Long-established habitats usually support a much more diverse range of wildlife than those of more recent origin and the more important semi-natural habitats on Mendip have developed as a consequence of a complex interaction of underlying geology, soils, aspect, climate, and a range of other factors. The modern-day Mendip landscape also supports extensive areas of intensively-managed grazing pasture, particularly on the deep and fertile soils of the plateau. Agricultural 'improvement' has encouraged application of fertilisers and re-seeding with rye-grass and other palatable grasses, giving such swards a characteristic vivid green colour throughout the year. However, such grasslands have lost most of their original character and contribute little to the biodiversity of the area.

Many different habitats can be found in the Mendip Hills, but in the context of publicly accessible sites, three are especially characteristic:

  Dolbury Warren, an example of unimproved limestone grassland.
goto the British Geological Survey home page