Moorland or moor is a type of habitat found in upland areas in temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands and montane grasslands and shrublands biomes, characterised by low-growing vegetation on acidic soils. Moorland nowadays generally means uncultivated hill land (such as Dartmoor in South West England), but includes low-lying wetlands (such as Sedgemoor, also South West England). It is closely related to heath although experts disagree on precisely what distinguishes the types of vegetation. Generally, moor refers to highland, high rainfall zones, whereas heath refers to lowland zones which are more likely to be the result of human activity.[1]

Moorland habitats mostly occur in tropical Africa, northern and western Europe and neotropical South America. Most of the world's moorlands are very diverse ecosystems. In the extensive moorlands of the tropics biodiversity can be extremely high. Moorland also bears a relationship to tundra (where the subsoil is permafrost or permanently frozen soil),[1] appearing as the tundra retreats and inhabiting the area between the permafrost and the natural tree zone. The boundary between tundra and moorland constantly shifts with climate change.

Desert of wales from Drygarn Fawr
Extensive moorland in the Desert of Wales

Heather moorland

Heather moorland on the North York Moors
Heather moorland on the North York Moors mainly consisting of Calluna vulgaris

Heathland and moorland are the most extensive areas of semi-natural vegetation in the British Isles. The eastern British moorlands are similar to heaths but are differentiated by having a covering of peat. On western moors the peat layer may be several metres thick. Scottish "muirs" are generally heather moors, but also have extensive covering of grass, cotton-grass, mosses, bracken and under-shrubs such as crowberry, with the wetter moorland having sphagnum moss merging into bog-land.[1]

There is uncertainty about how many moors were created by human activity. Oliver Rackham writes that pollen analysis shows that some moorland, such as in the islands and extreme north of Scotland, are clearly natural, never having had trees,[2] whereas much of the Pennine moorland area was forested in Mesolithic times.[3] How much the deforestation was caused by climatic changes and how much by human activity is uncertain.[1]


A variety of distinct habitat types are found in different world regions of moorland. The wildlife and vegetation forms often lead to high endemism because of the severe soil and microclimate characteristics. For example, in England's Exmoor is found the rare horse breed the Exmoor Pony, which has adapted to the harsh conditions of that environment.

In Europe, the associated fauna consists of bird species such as red grouse, hen harrier, merlin, golden plover, curlew, skylark, meadow pipit, whinchat, ring ouzel, and twite. Other species dominate in moorlands elsewhere. Reptiles are few due to the cooler conditions. In Europe, only the common viper is frequent, though in other regions moorlands are commonly home to dozens of reptile species. Amphibians such as frogs are well represented in moorlands. When moorland is overgrazed, woody vegetation is often lost, being replaced by coarse, unpalatable grasses and bracken, with a greatly reduced fauna.

Shira moorlands on Kilimanjaro
Moorland of Kilimanjaro

Some hill sheep breeds, such as Scottish Blackface and the Lonk, thrive on the austere conditions of heather moors.[4]


Burning of moorland has been practised for a number of reasons, for example when grazing is insufficient to control growth. This is recorded in Britain in the fourteenth century.[5] Uncontrolled burning frequently caused (and causes) problems, and was forbidden by statute in 1607. With the rise of sheep and grouse management in the nineteenth century it again became common practice. Heather is burnt at about 10 or 12 years old when it will regenerate easily. Left longer, the woodier stems will burn more aggressively and will hinder regrowth. Burning of moorland vegetation needs to be very carefully controlled as the peat itself can catch fire, and this can be difficult if not impossible to extinguish. In addition, uncontrolled burning of heather can promote alternative bracken and rough grass growth which ultimately produces poorer grazing.[6] As a result, burning is now a controversial practice; Rackham calls it "second-best land management".[1]

Mechanical cutting of the heather has been used in Europe, but it is important for the material to be removed to avoid smothering regrowth. If heather and other vegetation are left for too long, a large volume of dry and combustible material builds up. This may result in a wildfire burning out a large area, although it has been found that heather seeds germinate better if subject to the brief heat of controlled burning.

In terms of managing moorlands for wildlife, in the UK, vegetation characteristics are important for passerine abundance, whilst predator control benefits red grouse, golden plover, and curlew abundances. To benefit multiple species, many management options are required. However, management needs to be carried out in locations that are also suitable for species in terms of physical characteristics such as topography, climate and soil.[7]

Moorland in literature

Dartmoor in winter covered in snow. Several tors top the sparsely vegetated hills.
Dartmoor in winter covered in snow. Several tors top the sparsely vegetated hills.

The development of a sensitivity to nature and one's physical surroundings grew with the rise of interest in landscape painting, and particularly the works of artists that favoured wide and deep prospects, and rugged scenery.[8] To the English Romantic imagination, moorlands fitted this image perfectly, enhancing the emotional impact of the story by placing it within a heightened and evocative landscape. Moorland forms the setting of various works of late Romantic English literature, ranging from the Yorkshire moorland in Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett to Dartmoor in Arthur Conan Doyle's Holmesian mystery The Hound of the Baskervilles.

Enid Blyton's Famous Five series featured the young protagonists adventuring across various moorlands where they confronted criminals or other individuals of interest. Such a setting enhanced the plot as the drama unfolded away from the functioning world where the children could solve their own problems and face greater danger. Moorland in the Forest of Bowland in Lancashire is the setting for Walter Bennett's The Pendle Witches, the true story of some of England's most infamous witch trials. In Erin Hunter's Warriors series, one of the four Clans, WindClan, lives in the moorland alone.

Michael Jecks, author of Knights Templar Mysteries, sets his books in and around Dartmoor, England. Paul Kingsnorth’s Beast is also set on a western English moor, using the barren landscape and fields of heather to communicate themes of timelessness and distance from civilization.

Notable moorlands


Democratic Republic of the Congo





  • East African montane moorlands
  • Ethiopian montane moorlands



  • East African montane moorlands





United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is home to an estimated 10–15% of the world's moors.[9] Notable areas of upland moorland in Britain include the Lake District, the Pennines (including the Dark Peak and Forest of Bowland), Mid Wales, the Southern Uplands of Scotland, the Scottish Highlands, and a few very small pockets in western Herefordshire.

South America




Colombia is one of only three countries in the world to be home to páramo (tropical moorland) and more than 60% of the paramo regions are found on its soil.[10]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e Rackham, Oliver (1986). The History of the Countryside. Dent. ISBN 978-1-84212-440-6.
  2. ^ Birks and Madsen (1979). Journal of Ecology, 67.
  3. ^ Turner and Hodgson (1979). Journal of Ecology, 67.
  4. ^ Camilla Bonn (1998). 'That Jack Cunningham wants half of us out of farming', in Country Life, 15 January 1998, pp. 28–35.
  5. ^ McDermot, Edward T. (1973) [1911]. The History of the Forest of Exmoor. David and Charles.
  6. ^ Gimingham, C. H. (1972). Ecology of heathlands. London: Chapman & Hall. ISBN 978-1-5041-2639-7.
  7. ^ Buchanan, G. M.; Pearce-Higgins, J. W.; Douglas, D. J.T.; Grant, M. C. (2017). "Quantifying the importance of multi-scale management and environmental variables on moorland bird abundance". Ibis. 159 (4): 744–756. doi:10.1111/ibi.12488.
  8. ^ Norton Anthology of English Literature; Romantic Literature.
  9. ^ "Moorland". BBC Nature. BBC. October 2014. Retrieved 3 April 2015. Moorlands are upland areas with acidic, low-nutrient and often water-logged soils. In their cold, windy and wet conditions colourful heather plants dominate, growing on the deep peaty layers. These seas of pinks and purples are a haven for many small mammals and insects, but fewer reptiles than on lowland heaths. British moorland may look like wilderness, but it is actually a man-made and highly managed landscape, with regular burning to allow new heather growth. Some 10–15% of the world's moorland is found in the UK, mainly in the north and west of the country.
  10. ^ Luteyn, James L. (1999). "Páramo Ecosystem". Páramos: A Checklist of Plant Diversity, Geographical Distribution, and Botanical Literature. Missouri Botanical Garden. (The Páramo Ecosystem) It is concentrated in the northwest corner of South America, mostly in Venezuela, Colombia, and Ecuador.
2015 City of Lincoln Council election

The 2015 City of Lincoln Council election took place on 7 May 2015 to elect members of City of Lincoln Council in England. This was on the same day as other local elections.

Churnet Valley Railway

The Churnet Valley Railway is a preserved standard gauge heritage railway to the east of Stoke-on-Trent in Staffordshire, England, that operates along a part of the former North Staffordshire Railway's (NSR) Churnet Valley Line. Regular services travel between the two main stations at Cheddleton (the base of operations and motive power) and Kingsley and Froghall (the commercial and Administrative base). There is an intermediate station at Consall. Some trains also head beyond Cheddleton to Leek Brook Junction (the limit of the Churnet Valley Railway's track) and on to Ipstones, but Ipstones station is not in use.

The railway is roughly 10 1⁄2 miles (16.9 km) long from Kingsley & Froghall station to Ipstones. The land from Leek Brook Junction to Ipstones is owned by Moorland & City Railways (MCR), a company aiming to run freight trains from the quarries at Cauldon to the national network at Stoke-on-Trent, and to re-introduce a commuter service between Leek and Stoke.

Dactylorhiza maculata

Dactylorhiza maculata, known as the heath spotted-orchid or moorland spotted orchid, is an herbaceous perennial plant belonging to the family Orchidaceae. It is widespread in mountainous regions across much of Europe from Portugal and Iceland east to Russia. It is also found in Algeria, Morocco, and western Siberia.

Daydream – Moorland

Daydream – Moorland (1983) is a soundtrack single by the German band Tangerine Dream for the episode "Miriam" from the TV series Tatort (Crime Scene). It is available only on 7" vinyl.

Fletcher Christian

Fletcher Christian (25 September 1764 – 20 September 1793) was master's mate on board HMS Bounty during Lieutenant William Bligh's voyage to Tahiti during 1787–1789 for breadfruit plants. In the mutiny on the Bounty, Christian seized command of the ship from Bligh on 28 April 1789.

HM Prison Moorland

HM Prison Moorland (formerly HM Prison Moorland Closed) is a Category C men's prison and Young Offenders Institution, near Hatfield Woodhouse in South Yorkshire, England. The prison is operated by Her Majesty's Prison Service, and is jointly managed with the nearby Hatfield Prison.


A heath () is a shrubland habitat found mainly on free-draining infertile, acidic soils and is characterised by open, low-growing woody vegetation. Moorland is generally related to high-ground heaths with—especially in Great Britain—a cooler and damper climate.

Heaths are widespread worldwide, but are fast disappearing and considered a rare habitat in Europe. They form extensive and highly diverse communities across Australia in humid and sub-humid areas where fire regimes with recurring burning are required for the maintenance of the heathlands. Even more diverse though less widespread heath communities occur in Southern Africa. Extensive heath communities can also be found in the California chaparral, New Caledonia, central Chile and along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to these extensive heath areas, the vegetation type is also found in scattered locations across all continents, except Antarctica.

List of places in Greater Manchester

Map of places in Greater Manchester compiled from this list

This is a partial list of places in Greater Manchester, in North West England.

Longshaw Estate

Longshaw Estate is an area of moorland, woodland and farmland located within the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire, England.

In 1928 Ethel Haythornthwaite spearheaded an urgent appeal to the Yorkshire public, which helped Peak District and South Yorkshire CPRE to raise the funds to buy the 747-acre Longshaw Estate, which was threatened with development. The Estate was gifted to the National Trust in 1931.The Estate is part of the larger National Trust Peak District Estate and is run along with the High Peak Estate and White Peak Estate. At Longshaw, there is a tea room, shop and a learning facility called the Moorland Discovery Centre, which is a joint venture between National Trust and the Peak National Park. Also staff and volunteers run many events throughout the year on the estate relating to wildlife, the estate itself and many other topics. The name of Longshaw is thought to have derived from the long wood in Padley Gorge.

Moorland, Iowa

Moorland is a small town in Webster County, Iowa, United States. The population was 169 at the 2010 census.

Moorland, Kentucky

Moorland is a neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, United States. It is separately incorporated as a home rule-class city. The population was 431 as of the 2010 census.

Moorland School

Moorland School is a non-selective independent day and boarding school situated in the Ribble Valley, Clitheroe in North West England. The original building is a listed building, situated in 15 acres (61,000 m2) of countryside.

Moorland–Spingarn Research Center

The Moorland–Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) in Washington D.C. is located on the campus of Howard University on the first and ground floors of Founders Library. The Moorland–Spingarn Research Center (MSRC) is recognized as one of the world's largest and most comprehensive repositories for the documentation of the history and culture of people of African descent in Africa, the Americas, and other parts of the world. As one of Howard University's major research facilities, the MSRC collects, preserves, organizes and makes available for research a wide range of resources chronicling the Black experience. Thus, it maintains a tradition of service which dates to the formative years of Howard University, when materials related to Africa and African Americans were first acquired.

Mountain and moorland pony breeds

Mountain and moorland or M&M ponies form a group of several breeds of ponies and small horses native to the British Isles. Many of these breeds are derived from semi-feral ponies kept on moorland or heathland, and some of them still live in this way, as well as being kept as fully domesticated horses for riding, driving and other draught work, or for horse showing.

Mountain and moorland classes at horse shows in the British Isles cover most of the breeds; however, the four closely related Welsh breeds often form their own classes.

Traditionally the modern mountain and moorland ponies have been regarded as including nine breeds (the four Welsh types being counted as one). However, in recent decades at least two further types have been recognised: the Eriskay and the Kerry bog pony. Larger native British Isles horses (such as the various large draught breeds) are not regarded as belonging to the mountain and moorland group.

River Lerryn

The River Lerryn is a river in east Cornwall, England, UK, a tributary of the River Fowey. The Lerryn is the largest of the tributaries which enter the estuary of the Fowey. The river is tidal up to the village of Lerryn. The landscape of the Lerryn catchment is rural and includes heathland, moorland and rough pasture in the upper reaches and broadleaf, coniferous and mixed plantation woodland in the lower. This catchment includes four SSSIs, including Redlake Meadows & Hoggs Moor. The Lerryn rises at Fairy Cross (Grid ref. SX1262) on the southern slopes of Bodmin Moor and flows south-southwest until it enters the Fowey estuary (Grid ref. SX1255).The name of the river is Cornish; the earliest record of it is as "Leryan" and "Lerion" in 1289. In modern Cornish its name would be Dowr Leryon, meaning "river of floods". The village of Lerryn is named after the river.

Rough Fell

The Rough Fell is an upland breed of sheep, originating in England. It is common on fell and moorland farms, its distribution embracing a large proportion of South Cumbria, parts of the West Riding of Yorkshire, North Lancashire and, more recently, upland parts of Devon. It is very hardy and, as its name suggests, has proved to be well-suited to endure the hardships of exposed and high moorland and mountains. It is one of the largest mountain breeds in Britain. This breed is raised primarily for meat.The hardy constitution enables a ewe to mother and rear her lambs whilst feeding mainly on the poor upland grasses and heathers found on her native moorland. Because of the type of fleece, the breed requires no housing, even in the most inclement weather.

Rough Fell sheep can be recognized for the broad white patch across their black faces, and both rams and ewes are horned. They are mostly used by farmers on their native fell farms for pure breeding, but many are used for crossing with other breeds, contributing their hardiness and adaptation to upland conditions.

Mature ewes weighs 50 kg (110 lbs) on average and rams 80 kg (176 lbs).

South Pennines

The South Pennines is a region of moorland and hill country in northern England lying towards the southern end of the Pennines. In the west it includes the Rossendale Valley and the West Pennine Moors. It is bounded by the Greater Manchester conurbation in the west and the Bowland Fells and Yorkshire Dales to the north. To the east it is fringed by the towns of West Yorkshire whilst to the south it is bounded by the Peak District. The rural South Pennine Moors constitutes both a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Area of Conservation.

St Austell River

The St Austell River (Cornish: Dowr an Wynyk, meaning the little white river) properly known as the River Vinnick, but historically called The White River, is a 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) long river located in south Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. 50.337°N 4.793°W / 50.337; -4.793. The river has also been known as the "red river" due to tin streaming and mining activity upstream.

The river drains the central southern section of the St Austell Moorland, the second largest granite mass in Cornwall, an upland formed in the Variscan orogeny, to the north of St Austell. The highest natural point of the moorland is Hensbarrow Beacon at 312 metres (1,024 ft); however modern china clay mining waste tips now rise above it.

The name White River has been adopted locally because waste water from china clay quarrying and refining practices was emptied into the river giving it a white colour.The local term White River has given its name to the St Austell Town Centre Redevelopment Scheme, which is now called White River Place.

West Pennine Moors

The West Pennine Moors is an area of the Pennines covering approximately 90 square miles (230 km2) of moorland and reservoirs in Lancashire and Greater Manchester, England.The West Pennine Moors are separated from the main Pennine range by the Irwell Valley. The moorland includes Withnell, Anglezarke and Rivington Moors in the extreme west, Darwen and Turton Moors, Oswaldtwistle Moors and Holcombe Moors. These moors are lower in height than the main spine of the South Pennines. At 1,496 feet (456 m), the highest point is at Winter Hill. The area is of historical importance with archaeological evidence of human activity from Neolithic times. The area is close to urban areas, the dramatic backdrop to Bolton, Blackburn and Bury and neighbouring towns affording panoramic views across the Lancashire Plain and the Greater Manchester conurbation. The moorland is surrounded by the towns of Bolton, Chorley, Darwen, Horwich, Ramsbottom, Haslingden and Oswaldtwistle. Notable structures include Rivington Pike Tower, Winter Hill transmitting station, Peel Monument near Holcombe and the Jubilee Tower on Darwen Moor.

United Utilities owns around 40% of the land for water catchment. The company operates four information centres at Rivington, Jumbles Country Park, Roddlesworth and Haslingden Grane.

Classification systems

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