A richness of wildlife
"For our situation is delightful, our air is delicious, and our breezy hills and downs, carpeted with wild thyme, and decorated with millions of wild flowers, are, on the faith of a pedestrian, perfect."
Charles Dickens in "Out of Town" from his magazine Household Words, written in 1850 while staying in Folkestone.
"Dover and Shepway are of world importance for wildlife. You will find 1% of the world's chalk grassland here."
The districts of Dover and Shepway are rich in wildlife. The table alongside shows the area of different habitats important for wildlife.
The two districts are of world importance for vegetated shingle and chalk grassland. There are wetlands and broadleaved woodlands of national importance, as well as one of the few acid bogs remaining in Kent.
The vegetated shingle mainly occurs at Dungeness, with smaller areas at Hythe and Walmer (near Deal). There is an internationally important area of sand dunes at Sandwich Bay, with further areas at New Romney Warren and Greatstone.
Chalk grassland is one of the richest habitats in Europe for wildlife and has been described as Europe's equivalent of tropical rain forest. Dover and Shepway contain more than half the chalk grassland of Kent, or more than 2% of the chalk grassland in Britain, or about 1% of the chalk grassland in the world. Sites such as Folkestone Downs and the South Foreland Heritage Coast have been designated as Special Areas for Conservation, because of their European importance for wildlife.
Dover and Shepway contain important areas of wetland and water habitats. These are mainly found on Romney Marsh, but also on the Ash Levels, along the River Stour between Canterbury and Sandwich.
Although the two districts contain less than the average for broadleaved woodland than Kent as a whole, they contain a number of woodlands of national importance for wildlife. Lyminge Forest and Reinden Wood are some of the largest woodlands in Kent. The ancient woodlands situated on the chalk around Alkham, Swingfield and Lydden (near Dover) have been designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest for wildlife such as lady orchid, green hellebore and the dormouse.
Dover and Shepway contain very few areas of heathland. Stelling Minnis is one of the most complete commons in Kent. Gibbin's Brook, near Sellindge, is one of only three acid bogs remaining in Kent.
Images and information on much of Britian's wildlife can be found here.