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Heather Futures Project

For many years, moorlands have been lost or degraded due to overgrazing, undergrazing and commercial afforestation. More recently, native woodland planting and rewilding is increasing the pressure on moorland habitats in the UK. Despite this, there is limited available evidence on changes in the extent and quality of moorland habitats in the UK. Therefore, where moorland is under threat, there is a limited evidence-base for decision-makers to consider when assessing the cumulative impacts of moorland habitat loss.

Heather Futures will seek to address this evidence gap by identifying the best available datasets on current and historical moorland extent across the UK and produce regional and national estimates of moorland extent and historical moorland loss. The project will also assess potential threats to existing moorland habitat and explore whether site designation is an effective means of conserving moorland habitat.  


The project will ensure that a robust evidence base on moorland conservation is available for policy-makers and statutory environment agencies. 

Why it’s important 


  • Moorland habitats in the UK are rapidly being lost to other land uses or degraded as a result of the cessation of appropriate moorland management techniques. 

  • Conversion of moorland to other habitats has consequences for upland biodiversity, flood management, climate mitigation and adaptation and local communities. 

  • There is a need for evidence on the state of the UK’s moorlands to be collated, assessed and reported on at a range of spatial scales to provide a clear picture of the state and extent of the UK’s moorland habitats. 

  • This study will provide a robust baseline for decision-making on moorland management. When policy-makers or statutory environment agencies make decisions regarding the conversion of moorland to other land uses, they will be able to do so with an evidence-based consideration of the cumulative effects and significance of moorland habitat loss. 

  • This project aims to produce the evidence on which policy and long-term strategies to protect and maintain moorland habitats will be based. 

What we will do 


  • Define and categorise threats to moorland habitat 

  • Assess data sources to map the extent of heather moorland habitats and potential threats 

  • Map heather moorland habitats and assess change at a regional and national scale 

  • Compare case study sites to the national data to assess quality and inform future research 

  • Report our findings and produce an interactive map to ensure the evidence is accessible to stakeholders and policy-makers 

Other Priority Issues

The Heather Trust’s Board has identified additional priority issues to act as a focus for the Trust and the separate pages that follow summarise the Trust’s involvement with each of the issues.




































​Although the focus of our work is on these issues, this is far from an exhaustive list of our activity.  An indication of the scope of our involvement with upland issues is provided as part of the table in the About Us section.

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