A heath or heathland is a shrubland habitat found mainly on low quality acidic soils, and is characterised by open, low growing woody vegetation. There are some clear differences between heath and moorland. For example moorland has a very peaty topsoil, and it is also free-draining, whereas a heath is not. Moorland is generally related to high-ground heaths with — especially in Great Britain — a cooler and damper climate.
Heaths are widespread worldwide. They form extensive and highly diverse communities across Australia in humid and sub-humid areas. Fire regimes with recurring burning are required for the maintenance of the heathlands. Even more diverse though less widespread heath communities occur in Southern Africa. Extensive heath communities can also be found in the California chaparral, New Caledonia, central Chile and along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. In addition to these extensive heath areas, the vegetation type is also found in scattered locations across all continents, except Antarctica.
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