by Ed Tripp, University of Nottingham
The last few months has been spent travelling from one end of the UK to the other in order to find heathland sites.
I can't use just any sites. I want to study whether soil fertility is affected by nitrogen pollution. This pollution can come from factories, cities or farming, and too much of it can cause heathlands to disappear. My heathland sites must have a certain nitrogen deposition (fertility), they can't have too much rainfall, they can't be too high up, they can't contain plants which affect nitrogen concentration in the soil...the list goes on.
But I have found 26 great sites so far, from near Inverness in Scotland, to The Lizard in Cornwall, to Lundy Island! The next step is to start collecting soils.
Here I am surveying one site in the East Midlands! In the background you can see one plant which affects nitrogen concentration in the soil: Ulex europaeus, more commonly known as gorse.