Hartland Moor

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Hartland Moor
Hartland Moor National Nature Reserve - geograph.org.uk - 1757696.jpg
Open heathland on Hartland Moor
Type Heath
Location Dorset, England
Nearest town Wareham
Coordinates 50°39′58″N 2°04′16″W / 50.666°N 2.071°W / 50.666; -2.071Coordinates: 50°39′58″N 2°04′16″W / 50.666°N 2.071°W / 50.666; -2.071
Area 741.1 acres (299.9 ha)
Status SSSI

Hartland Moor is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) on the south side of Poole Harbour near the town of Wareham in Dorset, England. It consists of lowland heathland.

Protected area status[edit]

Hartland Moor was declared a National Nature Reserve in 1954, under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.[1] That designation applies to 243 hectares (600 acres) of the site;[2] it is part of a larger area that was notified as an SSSI in 1986.[1] The northeastern part of the original SSSI was later excluded to become part of Poole Harbour SSSI; currently the Hartland Moor SSSI has an area of 299.9 ha (741.1 acres).[1] A large part of the site is owned by the National Trust.[1]

Ecological characteristics[edit]

The site is a lowland heathland. Plant communities range from dry heath to valley mire.[2] Together with adjoining reserves, Hartland Moor forms one of the largest areas of lowland heath and mire in the county[3]—known as the Dorset Heaths. The underlying soil, which formed on sands and clay of the Bagshot Beds, is very low in fertility.[1]

The site has a Y-shaped drainage system running from east to west. The two arms of the stream display a large and unusual contrast in water chemistry. Water in the northern arm is acidic, while water in the southern arm is moderately high in calcium and moderately alkaline.[1][4] Immediately downstream from the confluence, water is intermediate in composition, becoming increasingly acidic as it flows downstream. The wetland surrounding the northern branch of the stream supports acid-loving wetland plants; golden bog-moss is abundant in this area. The wetland around the southern branch supports wetland plants that thrive in alkaline conditions; it is dominated by black bog-rush, which forms tussocks.[1][2][4] Rare plants on the site include Dorset heath, and, around a series of pools, bog sedge and the rare bog orchid (Hammarbya).[1][2]

The plants on the site are in turn a habitat for various animals, both local and rare. All six British reptile species are present on the site;[3] the rare sand lizard and smooth snake both breed on the property.[1] The site is grazed by a herd of Red Devon cattle that help to keep scrub vegetation from taking over the habitat.[3] Gorse found on the dry heath provides habitat for the European stonechat and the rare Dartford warbler,[1] which is only present on a few sites in the United Kingdom.[5] There is a hide for birdwatching on the site.[2]


Hartland Moor was the location of the first railway in Dorset; built in 1805, the Middlebere Plateway transported ball clay from Corfe Castle through the moor to Poole Harbour.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Hartland Moor (SSSI citation)" (PDF). Natural England. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Hartland Moor NNR". Natural England. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Hartland Moor and Middlebere Heath". National Trust. Retrieved 29 May 2013. 
  4. ^ a b Derek A. Ratcliffe, ed. (1977). A Nature Conservation Review: The Selection of Biological Sites of National Importance to Nature Conservation in Britain. Cambridge University Press. pp. 216–7. 
  5. ^ "Dartford Warbler". RSPB. Retrieved 4 June 2013. 

External links[edit]