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#Dunwich Heath

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This post looks out towards Sizewell across lowland heath and acid grassland owned by the National Trust and RSPB Minsmere.

What am I looking at?

Lowland heath like you can see here is one of the rarest habitats in the UK and has declined nationally by 92% in the last 120 years.

Dunwich Heath is within the Sandlings area – a once extensive heathland the stretched from Southwold to Ipswich, created by farmers clearing trees from the soil.

This stretch also includes patches of acid grassland that have emerged from livestock grazing on heathland, creating conditions for dwarf shrubs and pioneering grasses to emerge in the species-poor environment.

In addition to falling within the Suffolk & Essex Coast & Heaths National Landscape, Dunwich Heath is also a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Special Protection Area (SPA) and RAMSAR site.

What lives here?

Ongoing conservation work by staff and volunteers has been richly rewarded with major successes, including:

  • Becoming the first East Anglian site in 60 years to record breeding Dartford Warblers. Around 35 pairs of these elusive little birds are now resident at Dunwich Heath all year round.
  • The first successful breeding of stone curlews in 2017 following numerous failed attempts in previous years.
  • Known to support protected birds such as woodlark and nightjar, and rare insects including antlion, silver-studded blue butterfly and green tiger beetle.

Looking back…

Dunwich Heath was further extended in 2002 when 79 acres from Mount Pleasant Farm, north of the main site, was purchased with a donation from Pizza Express. Their seafood ‘Neptune’ pizza was sold to raise money for the Enterprise Neptune Campaign.

In 2015, a community grant awarded by the WREN Land Acquisition Fund and a further grant from the Enterprise Neptune Campaign enabled The National Trust to purchase a privately owned area of heathland which sat between the main heath and Mount Pleasant Farm.