Not that there is a conventional way to restore lichen-rich vegetation on shingle of course. This is a vegetation community that has developed over many decades, perhaps centuries, so recreating it was never likely to be easy.
Why do we need to recreate lichen heath in the first place? Well this vegetation is very, very fragile. Drive over it regularly enough to expose the humus and it blows away, and for some reason once this happens old stable shingle inland from the sea just does not revegetate, especially when the damaged areas are large. Extensive areas of the shingle beach, damaged during World War 2, remain as bare gravel and overall we have lost about half of the lichen heath that should be present on Dungeness*
Which brings me to the interesting news. The RSPB have been clearing willow trees from some of the Open Pits. This is perhaps not what you might expect of conservationists but to be frank the trees are a form of green death in these habitats, shading out much rarer habitats and species (click here to see which ones). Read the rest of this entry »