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Grasslands

The Atlantic region is largely covered by permanent grassland (30 %). Ireland has more than 70 % of the agricultural land as grassland, United Kingdom and the Netherlands have more than 50 %. The region also still has a large proportion of heathlands (some 8 %), though also that area has greatly decreased. In many areas the grasslands and heathlands are mixed, or grasslands left abandoned or with low grazing intensity may turn into heathlands, while overgrazed or fertilized heathlands may develop into grasslands.
The few existing natural grasslands and heatlands, together with the permanent semi-natural grasslands are crucial to biodiversity of the region. They are of very varied types: 15 inland grasslands, dry grasslands on sand or on chalk, grasslands in hills, uplands and mountains or along the coasts, dry or humid heathlands. The most widespread and common is the inland grassland type (mesophile hay meadow), dominated by meadow-grass (Poa pratensis), cock's-foot (Dactylis glomerata) and meadow fescue (Festuca pratensis). Grazing supports other species such as rye-grass (Lolium perenne) or crested dogs'-tail (Cynosurus cristatus). The following habitats occur in this ecosystem: Semi-natural dry grasslands and scrubland facies on calcareous substrates, Species-rich Nardus grasslands, on silicious substrates in mountain areas, Molinia meadows on calcareous, peaty or clayey-silt-laden soils, Lowland hay meadows (European Environment Agency, Europe‚Äôs biodiversity, The Atlantic region - ETC/NPB).