Barnsley Biodiversity Trust: Barnsley Biodiversity Action Plan. Last Updated January 2016

Priority habitat details

Unimproved and semi-improved acid grassland is a UK BAP broad habitat category.


Lowland acid grassland is a UK priority habitat within the broad habitat category.

It occurs on lime-deficient, free-draining soils with a pH ranging from 4 to 5.5.

Phase 1 habitat surveys identify unimproved and semi-improved acid grassland.


There are 6 NVC types of unimproved and semi-improved acid grassland of which the following are of note in Barnsley.

U1 bent fescue-sorrel pasture

U2 wavy hair grass pasture

U4 bent-fescue pasture

U5 mat grass pasture


Natural England has identified lowland acid grassland priority habitat as acid grassland with at least one frequent and three occasional examples from a list of 25 wildflowers indicative of this habitat. This definition is appropriate for adoption for the local priority habitat.


Unimproved or semi-improved grassland that meets the criteria is quite scarce and under threat. It should be protected and conserved.


Links for information

NE: Assessing grassland priority habitat

NE: Grassland management handbook

NE: Horses & grassland management

Acid grassland. The tussocky vegetation of acid grassland pastures supports birds such as Curlew, Lapwing, Skylark and Meadow Pipit together with mammals such as Brown Hare. Many invertebrates that occur in acid grassland are not found elsewhere and this grassland is important for bumblebees and solitary bees.

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Local Wildlife Sites:

Unimproved acid grassland

 1 Western Moors

 2 Whitley Edge

 3 Broadstone Reservoir

 4 Ingbirchworth Reservoir

 5 Royd Moor Reservoir

 7 Small Shaw & High Bank

 8 Hartcliff Hill

 9 Brock Holes

10 Hollin and Spring Woods

15 Blackmoor common




21 Falthwaite & Lowe Wood

24 Worsbrough Reservoir

25 Barnsley Canal at Wilthorpe

32 Hood Green Pastures

34 West Haigh Wood ???

41 Wharncliffe Chase and Wood

Italics: semi-improved grassland also found


Semi-improved acid grassland

 6 Scout Dyke Reservoir

22 Stainborough Park

58 Wool Greaves Meadow

Local Wildlife Sites.

There are no SSSIs designated primarily for their acid grassland.


Two sites were designated as local wildlife sites (in part) because of their unimproved acid grassland - Mag wood meadow, Hood Green pastures.


Other Local Wildlife Sites include areas of unimproved or semi-improved acid grassland, as indicated below.

The criteria in Barnsley for the selection of a local wildlife site on the basis of lowland dry-acid grassland are that it should be:

≥0.5ha in size and have an affinity with NVC communities U1, U2 and U4

and/or with 15 or more species from a list of 48 acid grassland indicator plants including grasses.

Such sites may also be selected on the fauna that such acid grassland supports.

For information on causes of loss and decline, legal protection, good management practice  and roles, see general information on grasslands.

Map …

Notable areas of unimproved or semi-improved acid grassland are found on the slopes of Hartcliffe Hill and the hills near Ingbirchworth and Thurlstone, on Wharncliffe Chase, Brockholes and Blackmoor common, and in pastures near Hood Green.


Many small sites such as field corners and banking occur throughout the borough as remnants of this habitat. Look out for it on former colliery sites that have not been reclaimed and older bell-pits like those at Tankersley golf course.


Acid grassland is found in Barnsley on the poor soils on sandstone edges, on slopes where the soil has been leached of nutrients, and where there has been quarrying, mining* or other industrial activities.


Grasses which tolerate the poor soils include wavy-hair grass, common bent, sweet vernal grass, sheeps fescue and mat grass.


Acid grassland has fewer broadleaved plants than neutral grassland. The acid grassland on rough moorland grazing has fewer still. However acid grassland below the moorland where not improved for agriculture, can have a wider range of herbaceous plants such as tormentil, betony, bitter-vetch, devils-bit scabious, harebell, heath bedstraw, and lady’s bedstraw.


Often acid grassland is part of a mosaic with heathland; where the cover of dwarf scrub is more than 25%, the vegetation is considered to be heathland.


Where acid grassland is found on former colliery sites that have not been reclaimed it may form part of the open mosaic on previously developed land priority habitat.

Priority habitat details

Unimproved and semi-improved acid grassland is a UK BAP broad habitat category.


Lowland acid grassland is a UK priority habitat within the broad habitat category.

It occurs on lime-deficient, free-draining soils with a pH ranging from 4 to 5.5.

Phase 1 habitat surveys identify unimproved and semi-improved acid grassland.


There are 6 NVC types of unimproved and semi-improved acid grassland of which the following are of note in Barnsley.

U1 bent fescue-sorrel pasture

U2 wavy hair grass pasture

U4 bent-fescue pasture

U5 mat grass pasture


Natural England has identified lowland acid grassland priority habitat as acid grassland with at least one frequent and three occasional examples from a list of 25 wildflowers indicative of this habitat. This definition is appropriate for adoption for the local priority habitat.


Unimproved or semi-improved grassland that meets the criteria is quite scarce and under threat. It should be protected and conserved.


Links for information

NE: Assessing grassland priority habitat

NE: Grassland management handbook

NE: Horses & grassland management