Molinia (purple moor-grass) grassland is widespread and often extensive in western Scotland on shallow, wet but not waterlogged peats and peaty gleys. A history of burning and heavy grazing may allow it to become dominant in what would otherwise be a heathy habitat. It may also develop in moderately mineral-rich silts where it is associated with occasional tall herbs and grasses.
Molinia grassland is grazed by livestock, especially in late spring and early summer but it is not particularly palatable and other species such as heaths within the sward may be preferentially grazed. If there are more palatable habitats in the woodland mosaic, the Molinia is unlikely to be heavily grazed. Over time, a lack of grazing may encourage the formation of rank tussocks and deep leaf litter.
Sharp-flowered rush pasture occurs on wet, flushed ground. It is dominated by rushes and is not very attractive to stock though it may contain tall herbs that are preferentially browsed. A lack of grazing may result in a dense mat of rushes whilst low to medium grazing levels may create niches for herbs to become established.
With the relatively low stocking density recommended for woodland grazing, Molinia grassland and rush pastures are unlikely to become overgrazed. In section 6 of these guidance notes you will find guidance on setting stocking densities in woodland containing significant areas of this habitat.
In western Scotland, species-rich versions of this habitat are included in the UK Biodiversity Habitat Action Plan - Purple moor grass and rush pastures.
This habitat may support marsh fritillary butterflies especially when the habitat occurs in a mosaic with damp, acid grassland and/or flushed heath. Woodland edge Molinia grassland in western Scotland may support chequered skipper butterflies.