By Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust

  1. Chalk grasslands are a type of grassland habitat found on limestone and chalk soils.
  2. Also known as lowland calcareous grassland it is famous for its floristic richness. There can be over 40 species per square metre of turf.
  3. Chalk grasslands are important for conservation because they are one of the most threatened habitats in Europe, with less than 1% of the original grassland area remaining.
  4. They are characterised by their low nutrient levels and short, fine grasses that are adapted to the dry conditions.
  5. Conservation grazing is hugely beneficial to this habitat. Livestock grazing creates a varied plant structure that provides ideal conditions for a diverse range of species to thrive.
  6. One of the most iconic species found in chalk grasslands is the skylark. These birds nest on the ground and rely on the open, low-growing vegetation of chalk grasslands for their survival
  7. Due to their unique soil and climatic conditions, chalk grasslands are home to a range of rare and threatened plant species, including many species of orchid.
  8. This habitat supports a wide variety of invertebrates, including butterflies, moths, and grasshoppers.
  9. Scrub vegetation often borders chalk grasslands. This creates a transition between the open grassland and the denser woodland, providing cover and shelter for wildlife moving between the two habitats.
  10. On the Isle of Wight we are incredibly lucky to have some of the best chalk grasslands, such as Arreton Down Nature Reserve, to support some of our most vulnerable, local wildlife.