Roughlee Habitats in 1988 and 2016

The first part of our Roughlee Habitats Report is an assessment, or interpretation, of the results of the Phase 1 habitat surveys. We’ve aimed to put them into plain English to easily understand what it all means, including a comparison between the 1988 and 2016 surveys to see how things have changed over the past 28 years.

What is a Phase 1 habitat survey?

The Phase 1 habitat classification and methodology is a standardised system for classifying and mapping habitats or types of vegetation in all parts of Great Britain, including urban areas. The ‘Phase 1 manual’ published originally by the Nature Conservancy Council in 1990 and reprinted with minor revisions by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), has been used widely throughout Britain for a diverse range of purposes. It has largely stood the test of time, and continues to be used as the standard ‘Phase 1’ technique for habitat survey across the UK (JNCC 2010, which can be downloaded here).

The aim of the Phase 1 survey is to provide, relatively rapidly, a record of the man-made and semi-natural vegetation and wildlife habitat over large areas of countryside in which every parcel of land is classified and recorded. The areas of the different habitat types can then be measured.

Vegetation is mapped on to Ordnance Survey maps, usually at a scale of 1:10,000, in terms of some 90 specified habitat types, using standard colour codes. The colour codes allow rapid visual assessment of the extent and distribution of different habitat types. Further information is gained from the use of dominant species codes within many habitat types and from descriptive ‘Target Notes’ which give a brief account of particular areas that are of interest and/or are too small or too complicated to map.

Surveying Roughlee Booth

The parish of Roughlee Booth was surveyed in 1988 as part of the Phase 1 habitat survey of Lancashire and in 2016 as part of the Phase 1 habitat survey of Pendle Hill and its hinterland. The area of the parish is approx. 449.43 hectares (ha), which equates to 44,943,400 square metres (m2) or 1,110.5 acres.

The following habitat types were recorded in the parish of Roughlee Booth in 1988 and 2016 (in descending order by area):

Area in 1988
(ha)
% Area in 2016
(ha)
% Phase 1 habitat or vegetation type Description
354.88 78.96 352.92 78.53 Improved grassland Grassland that has been ploughed and reseeded
31.90 7.10 33.82 7.53 Built-up land Buildings, caravan sites, hardstandings and roads etc.
26.42 5.88 30.28 6.74 Woodland & scrub Broadleaved, coniferous or mixed woodland – plantation or semi-natural – & dense scrub
13.87 3.09 9.57 2.13 Neutral grassland Grassland with a pH between 5.5 and 7
13.44 2.99 6.65 1.48 Marsh/marshy grassland Marsh and wet grassland dominated by rushes and/or wetland plants
5.57 1.24 11.64 2.59 Acid grassland Grassland with a pH less than 5.5
2.43 0.54 2.43 0.54 Flowing/running water Rivers and streams
0.48 0.11 0.72 0.16 Standing/still water Lakes, ponds and reservoirs
0.28 0.06 1.26 0.28 Amenity grassland Regularly mown lawns, playing and sports fields
0.16 0.04 0.14 0.03 Bracken & tall ruderal vegetation Stands of Bracken, docks, nettles, thistles, Rosebay Willowherb etc.
449.43 100.00 449.43 100.00
Changes in Woodland in Roughlee Booth between 1998 and 2016
  • Overall increase in woodland from 26.42ha in 1988 to 30.28ha in 2016, i.e. an increase of 3.86ha or 14.6%.
  • Increase in semi-natural broadleaved woodland from 14.20ha in 1988 to 15.49ha in 2016, i.e. an increase of 1.29ha or 9%.
  • Increase in broadleaved plantation from 1.43ha in 1988 to 3.67ha in 2016, i.e. an increase of 2.24ha or 157%.
  • Increase in coniferous plantation from 9.58ha in 1988 to 10.04ha in 2016, i.e. an increase of 0.46ha or 4.8%.
  • Decrease in mixed plantation from 1.20ha in 1988 to 0.11ha in 2016, i.e. a decrease of 1.09ha or 91%. However, the woodland hasn’t been lost but the conifers been replaced with broadleaved trees.
  • Gain of 0.97ha of dense scrub – only scattered scrub was recorded in 1988, the area of scattered scrub isn’t measured. Over time it is likely that the dense scrub will develop into semi-natural broadleaved woodland.

Changes in Grassland in Roughlee Booth between 1998 and 2016

  • Increase in acid grassland from 5.57ha in 1988 to 11.64ha in 2016, i.e. an increase of 6.07ha or 109%. Acid grassland is the most abundant semi-natural habitat type in Lancashire, covering around 5.6% of the county, and dominates extensive areas of the uplands and marginal fields, but it is scarce in lowland Lancashire. Acid grassland is often species poor, sometimes as a result of historic over-grazing, and can occur in a mosaic with Heather moorland. However, acid grassland is used by ground-nesting birds including Meadow Pipit and Skylark.
  • Decrease in the area of neutral grassland from 13.87ha in 1988 to 9.56ha in 2016, i.e. a decrease of 4.31ha (31%). However, the 9.56ha includes 8.49ha of poor semi-improved grassland, and if this species-poor neutral grassland is excluded, as this category wasn’t available in 1988, then the reduction in neutral grassland 12.80ha, which represents a decrease of 92.2%. Neutral grassland can be managed as meadow (cut for hay) and/or pasture (grazed by livestock), and includes the archetypal wildflower meadows that are full of attractive wildflowers and alive with bees, butterflies and others insects.
  • Decrease in Improved grassland from 354.89ha in 1988 to 352.92ha in 2016, i.e. a decrease of 1.96ha or 0.55%. Improved grassland is the most abundant habitat type in Lancashire, covering nearly 58% of the county, and dominates the lowlands and marginal fields extending up to the hill walls. Most fields have been reseeded with commercial grass seed mixes, often including Rye-grass and White Clover, fertiliser and herbicides are often applied, and they typically support a limited range of wildflowers. However, they can be used by ground-nesting birds such as Lapwing.
  • Decrease in marshy grassland from 13.44ha in 1988 to 6.65ha in 2016, i.e. a decrease of 6.79ha or 50.5%. Marshy grassland is typically dominated by rushes and/or sedges, Purple Moor-grass and/or wetland plants such as Meadowsweet. It is also one of the most abundant semi-natural habitat type in Lancashire and dominates extensive areas of the uplands and marginal fields, but it less common in lowland Lancashire. It can be species-rich or species-poor and, due to the abundance of rushes, is usually grazed by livestock rather than being cur for hay. Marshy grassland can support large numbers of ground nesting wading birds such as Curlew, Lapwing and Snipe.

Changes in Other habitat types in Roughlee Booth between 1998 and 2016

  • Decrease in stands of Bracken and tall ruderal vegetation (i.e. dominated by Bracken, docks, nettles, thistles and/or Rosebay Willowherb) from 0.16ha in 1988 to 0.14ha in 2016, i.e. a decrease of 0.02ha or 12.5%. Stands of docks, nettles, thistles and/or Rosebay Willowherb can provide important sources of seeds for seed-eating birds and nectar for a wide variety of insects.
  • Increase in standing water from 0.48ha in 1988 to 0.72ha in 2016, i.e. an increase of 0.24ha or 49.6%. Standing water is very important for aquatic and wetland birds and plants, provides breeding sites for amphibians, and is home to a myriad of aquartic invertebrates.
  • Increase in amenity grassland from 0.28ha in 1988 to 1.26ha in 2016, i.e. an increase of 0.98ha or 450%. Amenity grassland is regularly mown as greens, lawns and pitches. Many areas are reseeded with commercial grass seed mixes, often including Rye-grass, fertiliser and herbicides are often applied, and they typically support a limited range of wildflowers. However, they can provide food for a variety of birds including Backbird, Carrion Crow, Collared Dove, gulls, Jackdaw, Magpie, Rook, Starling and thrushes.
  • Increase in caravan site from 4.5ha in 1988 to 5.74ha in 2016, i.e. an increase of approx. 1.2ha or 27%. However, it is assumed that there has been negligible change in other areas of built up land, i.e. 27.4ha of roads, buildings, hardstandings and small gardens.
  • Gain of 0.68ha of bare ground, which is assumed to be associated with human activity but bare ground can be created naturally, e.g. eroding river banks. Bare ground can be very important for solitary bees and wasps, which burrow into the ground.
  • It is assumed that there has been no change in the area of rivers and streams, i.e. 2.43ha of running water.

Summary of changes in natural/semi-natural versus man-made/artificial habitat types in Roughlee Booth between 1998 and 2016

The habitat or vegetation types can be summarised in terms of them being natural/semi-natural or man-made/artificial.

  • In 1988, 50.14 hectares (11.16%) was natural/semi-natural and 399.29 hectares (88.84%) was man-made/artificial.
  • In 2016, 47.60 hectares (10.59%) was natural/semi-natural and 401.84 hectares (89.41%) was man-made/artificial.
  • Overall there has been a decrease in semi-natural habitats from 50.14ha in 1988 to 47.60ha in 2016, i.e. a decrease of 2.55ha or 5.1%.
  • Conversely, there has been an increase in artificial habitats from 399.29ha in 1988 to 401.84ha in 2016, i.e. an increase of 2.55ha or 5.1%.
  • The proportion of artificial to semi-natural habitats in 1988 was 88.84 : 11.16, and this has increased to 89.41 : 10.59 in 2016.

Comparison with wider Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership area

Changes in habitat types in Roughlee Booth can be compared to changes that have been recorded for the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership area, as follows:

Habitat Roughlee Parish 1988 (ha) Roughlee Parish 2016 (ha) % Change Roughlee Parish Pendle Hill 1988 (ha) Pendle Hill 2016 (ha) % Change Pendle Hill
Broadleaved Woodland1 15.63 20.13 29 334 602 80
Coniferous Woodland 9.58 10.04 4.8 116 126 8
Mixed Woodland 1.20 0.11 -91 61 55 -10
Acid Grassland 5.57 11.64 109 948 1,192 26
Neutral Grassland 13.87 9.56 -31 764 97 -87
Calcareous Grassland 0 0 0 48 32 -32
Marshy Grassland 13.44 6.65 -50.5 680 292 -57
Bracken & Tall herb 0.16 0.14 -12.5 106 136 28
Heath 0 0 0 321 97 -70
Blanket Bog 0 0 0 359 564 57
Fen 0 0 0 52 134 159
Open Water 2.91 3.15 8 38 45 18
Other (mainly Improved Grassland and Built-up) 387.07 388.01 0.2 8,580 9,035 5
Total 449.43 449.43 0   12,407 12,407 0

1 includes dense scrub in Roughlee Booth in 2016.

From the table above it can be seen that there have been significant increases in the area of woodland in both Roughlee and Pendle Hill between 1998 and 2016, but the change has been greater across Pendle Hill as a whole than in the parish of Roughlee Booth. There have been relatively small increases in conifer plantation but larger decreases in the area of mixed plantation. However, the greatest change in woodland in Roughlee Booth is the increase in broadleaved plantation, there being four main areas of new tree planting:

  1. Between Carr Head/Ouzle Rock and Dimpenley Top;
  2. Between Lower Gray Stones and Dole House;
  3. Adjacent to Noggarth Road and the start of the access lane to Dole House; and
  4. North of Intake, south of Offa Hill.

Acid grassland has increased by nearly 110% in Roughlee Booth and by 26% across Pendle Hill as a whole between 1988 and 2016, probably as a result of soils being leached by rainwater that is slightly acidic, as well as by farmers applying less, or no, lime (Calcium Carbonate) to the fields.

In contrast to acid grassland, neutral grassland has decreased by over 30% in Roughlee Booth, but by nearly 90% across Pendle Hill between 1998 and 2016, probably as a result of agricultural improvement.

Marshy grassland has decreased by over 50% in both Roughlee and Pendle Hill between 1998 and 2016, probably as a result of drainage.

There is more open water in both Roughlee Booth and across Pendle Hill as a whole compared to 1988, which is a result of pond creation, i.e. 7ha across Pendle, but just 0.24ha in Roughlee Booth, i.e. at Dole House.