Lincolnshire & Rutland Limestone Natural Area

This natural area, about one fifth the size of Lincolnshire, is defined by its underlying limestone geology. The thin lime-rich soils found here can support a very high biodiversity if limestone grassland can be conserved. Limestone grassland now only occupies a tiny proportion (0.05%) of this area where it was once a characteristic part of the landscape. The little that remains of this habitat is among the most fragmented of its kind in the country.

A report chronicling local extinctions in the British flora published by Plantlife in 2012 states that the county of Lincolnshire lost nearly 1 species of flowering plant every 2 years throughout the 20th century. The location of all that is left is not yet known; but it is thought that most parishes in the area contain some flower-rich road verges.

Road verges represent a vital opportunity to link the few remaining patches of grassland across the landscape. A well cared for network of verges can act as green corridors that help plants and animals move as they need to cope with disturbance and adapt to climate change.

In places verges are as much as 20m wide, where the Enclosure Acts provided for roadside grazing along drove roads. A few verges, such as those along High Dike north of Ancaster, are so important that they have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest.

Lincolnshire's Protected Roadside Verge Scheme (now known as the Roadside Nature Reserve Scheme), adopted in 1960, was the first in the UK and now forms a basis upon which further work can be done to ensure the survival of this threatened habitat.

Note: Since the project's inception, the Lincolnshire and Rutland Limestone Natural Area has been subdivided by Natural England into the two National Character Areas of: the Kesteven Uplands and the Southern Lincolnshire Edge.

Pyramidal Orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis) Photograph: RB Wilkinson Greater Knapweed (Centaurea scabiosa) Photograph: JR Crellin

Pyramidal Orchid
Anacamptis pyramidalis
Photograph: RB Wilkinson

Greater Knapweed
Centaurea scabiosa
Photograph: JR Crellin
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