Surrey Heathland Partnership has been looking after lowland heathland for 25 years. We work with a range of partners and clients to manage heaths across the county and southeast of England. Partners involved with the Partnership meet as a steering group twice a year.
What services does the Heathland Partnership offer
A major role of the Surrey Heathland Partnership now is contract management. The team's first hand knowledge of heathland management helps to ensure work is delivered by contractors to a high standard and at competitive prices.
- We work to raise awareness of heathland and promote its value to local communities
- We organise seminars and training courses to circulate information about new techniques across the country as well as advice to heathland owners and managers
- We assist with grant applications and preparing management plans
- We organise and run practical land management, providing specialist advice and working with local communities
- We run grazing programmes on some heathland sites in a project management role
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
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 animals
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 and 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' pdf 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.
Surrey Heathland Partnership
Merrow Depot, Merrow Lane
Telephone: 01483 579713
Files available to download
- Introduction to Surrey Heathland (554.5 KB)
Brief introduction to Surrey heathland habitat and management