Skip to main content

Heathland Partnership

Surrey Heathland ProjectThe Surrey Heathland Partnership has been looking after beautiful lowland heathland sites for over 25 years. We work with a wide range of partners, clients and parish councils to manage the valuable heaths across the county and into the southeast of England.

What services does the Heathland Partnership offer?

The major role of the Surrey Heathland Partnership is contract management. The team's first hand extensive knowledge of heathland management helps to ensure work is delivered by contractors to the highest standard and at competitive prices.

  • We work to raise awareness of heathland and promote its value to local communities (residents and companies)
  • We provide essential best practice/specialist guidance to heathland owners and managers
  • We assist with grant applications and preparing management plans
  • We organise and run practical land management work, working in close contact with approved countryside contractors
  • We run/manage grazing programmes on some heathland sites for our partner authorities

What is heathland?

Lowland heathland is an open landscape generally covered in heathers, gorse and tree scrub. It can also include bracken, acid grassland, bogs, bare sandy or peaty ground, scattered trees and water.

In Surrey there are two main heathland types – the Thames Basin heaths in the north west of the county and the Wealden Greensand heaths in the south west and centre. Additionally there is some heathland overlying the chalk of the North Downs.

Map of heathland in Surrey

Map of Heathland ProjectTo see the distribution of heathland areas across the county, click on the map, where heathland areas are marked in purple and major sites are named.

Why is it important to maintain heathland?

Two hundred years ago heathland covered most of West Surrey but now less than a fifth of this original heathland remains. It's been mainly lost due to urban development, unmanaged forestry encroachment and general neglect. Lowland heathland is an internationally rare and unique habitat, supporting a variety of specialised plants and wildlife.

In Surrey 85% of the heathland has been lost in just 200 years, leading to a severe loss of biodiversity. In recent decades heathland has been recognised for its wildlife value and its historical and cultural interest, and much is now protected from development.  

Surrey heathland is outstandingly important for wildlife and people


Although the number of characteristic heathland species is small, our heathland supports internationally important numbers of three ground-nesting bird species - the nightjar, woodlark and Dartford warbler.


Lowland heathland in Surrey is extremely important for invertebrates, especially insects and spiders, and many rare and characteristic species occur.

Reptiles & amphibians

Surrey is one of only three counties in the British Isles which support all of the native heathland reptiles and amphibians, including the rare and specially protected sand lizard, smooth snake and Natterjack toad.

Find out more on the work we do to protect and enhance all these species - open the 'Introduction to Surrey heathland' below which is a pocket guide to Surrey's heathland habitat and the wildlife it supports.

Fires on heathland

As with all areas of the countryside, there is a risk of fire breaking out and a constant need to educate people in fire awareness. Firefighters from Surrey Fire and Rescue Service attend large numbers of heath fires each year.

Our partners

Our heathland countryside management service is core funded by Surrey County Council (host authority) and three borough councils: Guildford BC, Waverley BC and Woking BC.

Contact us

Surrey Heathland Partnership Senior Project Officer (Heathlands & Contracts): Marcus Turley

Surrey Countryside Partnerships Operations Manager: Helen Cocker

Surrey Countryside Partnerships Business Development Officer: Debbie Hescott

Address: Surrey Heathland Partnership, Whitebeam Lodge, Surrey County Council Merrow Depot, Merrow Lane, Guildford, Surrey GU4 7BQ

Telephone: 01483 579713       


Files available to download

  • Updated: 10 Oct 2016
  • Send to a friend