This sumptuously illustrated book is a photographic guide to habitats and offers an in-depth overview of Britain's and Ireland's landscapes and their natural history. It is essentially a field guide and shows the reader all the main habitat types, with information on their characteristics, extent, geographical variation, key species, cultural importance, origins and conservation. It will help people recognize the landscapes they see around them when in the countryside, and will aid understanding of these have evolved, why they are special, and how they might change in the future.
Britain's Habitats is the perfect book for anyone travelling through British and Irish landscapes, and is essential reading for all wildlife enthusiasts, professional ecologists and landscape architects.
"Essential reading for all wildlife enthusiasts, professional ecologists and landscape architects [...] [I]t's an ideal field guide to the nation's nature."
"This is one of those books that I didn't know I needed until it arrived, and now that I do have it, I consider it an indispensable reference and simply cannot put it down as I plan my trip schedule for next year. This is also the first book of its kind that I've come across and, I am sure, will become a standard text for many other nature enthusiasts looking to make sense of the environment around them. This book sits comfortably alongside other reference works such as those on butterflies, moths, birds, plants and so on and [...] is highly recommended."
– Peter Eeles, Dispar
"Its detailed and authoritative treatment will make it a standard textbook for students and conservation professionals whilst its insightful content and attractive presentation will also guarantee its appeal to the general reader and amateur naturalist."
– Andy Stoddart, Rare Bird Alert
"This is a superb book and is for anyone who loves wildlife and discovering more about why they are seeing species where they do. It is truly a 'field' guide."
"[B]oth inspiring and a wake-up call to anyone with an interest in the natural world [...] an invaluable reference resource as well as being an enjoyable read."
– Matt Merritt, Bird Watching
"[E]xcellent and valuable [...] should be widely read by wildlife and landscape enthusiasts."
– Rob Hume, Birdwatch
"Occasionally a book comes along the like of which you have never seen before. This is such a book. The beautifully produced work is a wonderful celebration of the rich diversity of Britain and Ireland's habitats, stunningly illustrated [...] This is much more than a coffee table book [...] The breadth of coverage and knowledge imparted is quite staggering. This is an essential reference book for anyone interested in our wildlife habitats, their extent, location, conservation, and much, much more."
– Nigel Bourn, Butterfly Magazine
"The book is certainly crammed full of information and detail and any ecology student would do well to have this volume on their shelves."
– Derbyshire Wildlife Trust
"This is a must for your bookshelves."
– Highland News
"This ambitious book succeeds in describing the range of habitat types that exist in Britain and Ireland in an informative but engaging way. For anyone wanting to learn more about the fabric and texture of the countryside, the book is an excellent starting point."
– Rob Fuller, British Birds
"I found this book a great pleasure to read and will be dipping into it frequently in the future. Anyone with an interest in the outdoors will love it and I would recommend without hesitation that it be placed on the reference shelves of every university, college, school and public library."
– Anthony Toole, Waterstones
"Everyone should browse this book and, with deeper understanding, rejoice in the green and pleasant land in which we live – and consider how it might be maintained and improved for future generations."
– Rob Robinson, BTO
"It's a very informative piece of work and every birder should take a look either to refresh their fieldcraft or maybe to start them on the path of seeing the environment as a whole not just our normal narrow avian focus."
"This is a stunning book in every way that a bibliophile or collector can imagine, and it's an inspirational book in every sense that a citizen scientist or a professional ecologist can wish for."
– GrrlScientist, Guardian
"This book is highly recommended to anyone wishing to gain a better understanding of our plants and their habitats."
– Ro Scott, Highland Naturalist
"This is a highly impressive book [...] As far as this reviewer is aware, there is no other printed work with this level of visual material describing and classifying the natural habitats of the British Isles."
– Tony Chalcraft, Reference Reviews
"I like it [...] I like it a lot. This is a beautifully produced hardback volume that covers all of the main habitat types found across the islands of Britain and Ireland. Illustrated throughout with more than 680 colour photographs it is a visual feast [...] a good balance of information that's particularly well suited to the wildlife enthusiast, birder or anyone who loves the great outdoors and would like a better understanding of how it all fits together."
– Calvin Jones, Ireland's Wildlife
"[A] beautifully produced book [...] Anyone with an interest in the outdoors will find this book indispensable. I will certainly be dipping into it frequently."
– Tony Toole, Sherkin Comment
Types of habitat 10
Factors influencing habitats 12
Natural change - Succession 18
Habitat classification 20
Conservation of habitats 22
THE HABITATS 25
Lowland Mixed Oak and Ash Wood 34
Lowland Dry Oak and Birch Wood 38
Beech Wood 40
Yew Wood 42
Wet Woodland 44
Wood Pasture 48
Atlantic Oak Wood 52
Upland Mixed Ash Wood 56
Caledonian Forest 58
Atlantic Hazel Wood 62
Upland Birch Wood 64
Coniferous Plantation 66
Mixed Scrub 72
Lowland Dry Heath 86
Maritime Heath 90
Dune Heath 90
Breckland Heath 91
Shingle Heath 91
Limestone Heath 91
Lowland Wet Heath 92
Upland Dry Heath 94
Upland Wet Heath 98
Lowland Calcareous Grassland 108
Lowland Dry Acid Grassland 112
Lowland Meadow and Pasture 114
Purple Moor-grass and Rush Pasture 116
Coastal and Floodplain Grazing Marsh 118
Upland Calcareous Grassland 122
Northern Hay Meadow 124
Upland Rush Pasture 126
Upland Acid Grassland 128
Calaminarian Grassland 130
Montane Dwarf-shrub Heath 136
High Montane Heath and Snow-bed 140
Mountain Ledge 144
Montane Scrub 146
ROCKY HABITATS 148
Rocky Slopes 152
Limestone Pavement 156
Blanket Bog 168
Raised Bog 172
Upland Spring and Flush 174
Lowland Fen 176
Valley Mire 180
Nutrient-rich (Eutrophic) Lake 196
Upland Lake, Loch and Tarn 198
Peat-stained (Dystrophic) Waters 200
Turlough and Fluctuating Mere 202
Mesotrophic Lake 204
Marl Lake 204
Lowland Nutrient-poor Lake 205
Brackish Lake 205
Fast-flowing River and Stream 212
Sluggish River and Stream 214
Chalk River and Stream 216
COASTAL HABITATS 218
Mudflat and Sandflat 224
Sand Dune 228
Coastal Vegetated Shingle 234
Saline Lagoon 238
Rocky Shore 240
Soft Cliff 242
Hard Cliff and Cliff Slope 244
OTHER HABITATS 248
Traditional Orchard 254
Habitat Correspondence Tables 256
Species referred to in the text 266
Photographic Credits 273
Map Credits 274
This is one of my favourite books from 2014. Apart from the fact that I really enjoy looking at photos of habitats, this book is stuffed full of useful information. As a birder rather than a naturalist, I don’t really claim to know a lot about what makes up the habitat that I happen to be in at any time. However this book gives a great overview of what else is there – with a particular emphasis on plant life. Importantly, the book helps the reader to understand how each habitat has evolved and what makes it special, and how that might change in the future.
Some of the team that brought it together may be familiar to HOS members. Sophie Lake and Durwyn Liley are professional ecologists who work at Footprint Ecology in Dorset. Rob Still and Andy Swash run WILDGuides, a publishing company based in Old Basing, and they made the publication happen – providing many of the photographs.
Although many habitats are described they are grouped together in sections – Woodlands, Scrub, Heathlands, Grasslands, Mountains, Rocky Habitats, Wetlands, Freshwater, Coastal Habitats and Other Habitats. Surprisingly the latter section does not include “Urban” – but does describe “Brownfield”.
The distribution of each habitat is shown on a colour map which I found very useful. Information on key nature conservation designations and different systems of habitat classification are also described. If, like the authors, you are a trained ecologist then most of these terms will be very familiar to you. But if you are primarily a birder, then I think that you’ll find the explanations will start to bring a greater understanding of each habitat. As a birder who has to talk with trained ecologists about conservation issues this book will certainly help me to understand the bigger picture.
Sophie Lake and Durwyn Liley are professional ecologists who work at Footprint Ecology and live near the Purbeck Heaths and Poole Harbour in Dorset. They have worked in nature conservation, for a range of different organizations, for more than twenty years. This book is the result of their shared passion for natural history, ecology and the wild places in which they have lived, travelled and worked.
Robert Still, the cofounder of WILDGuides, is an ecologist and graphic artist, and has designed more than thirty of its titles. Andy Swash, the managing director of WILDGuides, is an ecologist and wildlife photographer. Still and Swash are the coauthors of a number of books, including Britain's Dragonflies, Britain's Butterflies, Britain's Day-Flying Moths and Britain's Sea Mammals (all WILDGuides).