AQA Geography A2 Ecosystems Case Studies Part 2

Moorland case study


Location: Scotland

Background info: Caledonian forest is where some of the post glaciations trees still exist this is because of the hard to access the tree as located on hills etc and they are protected from deforestation. They have recently introduced a new legislation to protect the forest.

Human arresting factors:

There has been extensive deforestation particularly for Scots pine, Oak and Birch.

 Some the moorland is used for livestock as it contain good nutrition for the animals and also trample the ground which stops the moorland from moving to the next stage of the succession.

Periodic burning of the heather creates new plants to grow which are full of nutrition for the grazing animals but is an arresting factor so cannot move along the succession, this also means that there is less older heather which is used for nesting and cover for the birds

Some of the moorland has been reforested or reclaimed

Natural arresting factors:


There is a lot of grazing by animals which prevents the natural regeneration of trees as it stops there being a build up of decomposed plant material.

Animals such as deeper trampling the ground prevent the tree saplings from growing.

Sheep and deer roam free so there are cases of overgrazing where some areas there are limited amount of plants. 

There has been  increase cases of the Grouses getting diseases which reduce their number, also since the birds of prey are protected which feed on the young red grouse.

 There is an increasing population of heather beetle which feed on the heather which is devastating their numbers.

Human management:


Conservation and regeneration measures have been put into place such as deer fencing, deer culling to allow the vegetation to re-grow and tree planting to encourage the forest ecosystems. This has been to try and increase the amount of climax vegetation in Scotland which currently is only at 3%.


  • Scots pine , birch and oak trees
  • Juniper and rowan shrubs
  • Heather and blaeberry ferns
  • Grass and herbs on the ground


  • Red Grouse
  • Deer
  • Goats
  • Cattle
  • Hawks
  • Fox

Why is a plagioclimax?

Because of all the grazing and burning this means that the heather cannot move along the succession to the next sere so it is not possible for the climax species from establishing, such as Scots pine and Birch woodland. The Red Grouse’s habitat was the woodland but it has adapted to the moorland so their diet has changed to heather shoots, buds and seeds. There has been reclamation and reforestation in the mostly low lying lands which so these places where the Heather is not allowed to grow. When the heather is burned if not done correctly it can cause the heather seed to die so the heather would not come back. Due to the plants being burned, this kills the plants roots so the soil is easily eroded until the heather grows back.

Wasteland Case study:

Hunslet Mills/ Victoria Mills, Leeds, UK

These are


Mr A Gibson

Part two of three resources on case studies that are invaluable to you for this module. Use them to learn the information you need and to create your own resources from (e.g. Flash Cards). Everything is in these three resources.

Resource 1 - AQA Geography A2 Ecosystems Case Studies Part 1

Resource 2 - AQA Geography A2 Ecosystems Case Studies Part 2 - this resource

Resource 3 - AQA Geography A2 Ecosystems Case Studies Part 3

Similar Geography resources:

See all Geography resources »See all Ecosystems and biodiversity under threat resources »