Sherwood Forest Heathlands

Sherwood Forest heathland cpt John Smith Notts WTSherwood Forest heathland cpt John Smith Notts WT

Lowland heathland - a landscape of bright purple heathers scattered on open grassy areas - is one of our most fragile and threatened habitats. Globally, it is rarer than rainforest, and one fifth of this precious resource is here in the UK.

reconnecting and enhancing Sherwood’s ancient heathlands

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust

Centuries ago, the majority of Sherwood Forest was heathland, rather than dense oak woodland as many people believe. The heathland would have been used for grazing and burnt to help the heather plants to regenerate. This traditional management was crucial to the survival of heathland habitats, preventing them from being overgrown with trees and grasses.

Today, traditional management has ceased and since 1800, due to a combination of intensive agriculture, plantation forestry and urban development, Nottinghamshire has lost 90% of the original heathland that once covered a vast area.

What's happening?

Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust is reconnecting and enhancing Sherwood’s ancient heathlands, focussed on an area to the south-west of Clipstone Forest, which includes our Rainworth Heath and Strawberry Hill Heath Nature Reserves.  This will make a significant contribution to achieving the county target of restoring 1,750 hectares of lowland heathland by 2015.

Careful conservation management and grazing will help to restore the sensitive heathland and reconnect this patchwork of fragmented habitats. Sheep are used to graze the land as they are well-equipped to navigate tough terrain, munching their way through unwanted scrub and plants to allow native species and the heathland to thrive.

We are also delivering an education programme for young people from schools and other groups from the Nottingham area, with activities including practical conservation tasks. The programme aims to help connect young people to the value, history and future of our local landscape.

Start date: 2008

Scheme area: 2,200 hectares

Trust reserves within the scheme

Strawberry Hills Heath, Rainworth Heath

This scheme is helping species including...

All six of the UK's native reptiles, woodlark, tree pipit, nightjar.

Current threats to the landscape

Development, agricultural intensification

This scheme is also...

Helping wildlife adapt to climate change, improving access for people, providing recreational opportunities, encouraging green tourism


Natural England, Forestry Commission, local authorities, local landowners, mineral companies, Sherwood Forest Trust, Sherwood Habitats Steering Group, Nottinghamshire Biodiversity Action Group

To find out more

Email: | Tel: 0115 958 8242 | Sherwood Forest Heaths

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