UK Lowland Grassland Habitats

Blue-eyed-grass © Alistair Church, NIEA; Snipe © Mike Hammett, CCW; Scarlet hood waxcap fungi © Mark Wright, NIEA; Globeflower © David Stevens, CCW; Marsh fritillary butterfly © Adrian Fowles, CCW

Lowland semi-natural grassland in the UK includes a range of well-known habitat types. Lowland calcareous grassland is found predominantly on chalk or limestone, whereas Lowland dry acid grassland is associated with acid rocks, sands or gravels, or heavily leached soils in the upland fringes. Lowland meadows are found widely on neutral soils, albeit often as small and isolated fragments. Upland hay meadows are a feature of the upland fringes of northern England and Scotland. Poorly drained soils, particularly in the west, are home to Purple moor grass and rush pastures, whilst Calaminarian grassland is a specialised habitat found on metalliferous soils, including mine spoil and river shingles.


Semi-natural lowland grassland is one of the most evocative and yet threatened habitats in the UK. Although grassland is widespread in the UK lowlands, particularly in the west, the majority has been agriculturally improved. As a result this habitat has probably lost more plant species diversity than any other semi-natural habitat in the UK. Surviving areas of sympathetically managed semi-natural grassland are scare and often small and isolated from each other.


UK semi-natural lowland grasslands are a priority for nature conservation. This partly relates to their steep decline and scarcity, but also to their naturalness and intrinsic appeal and because they provide home to a host of highly specialised plants and animals. Accordingly, there are seven UK lowland grassland coastal habitat types listed under Annex I of the EU Habitats Directive and seven lowland grassland priority habitats listed under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.


Use the following page links to find out more about UK lowland grassland habitats: