Porton Down - United Kingdom

Basic Information

Site Name: 

Porton Down

Short name : 


Country (Site Location): 

United Kingdom

LTER Member Network: 

Contact: Site Manager: 

General Site Description: 

UK ECN site. Porton Down is located in Southern England on the Wiltshire/Hampshire border. It is owned by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and is a military research area. It has been closed to the public for over 100 years, resulting in it missing out on the agricultural revolution which affected the rest of the country. This is why it constitutes the largest uninterrupted tract of semi-natural chalk grassland in Britain, a habitat which has declined by more than 80% in the last 50 years. Over 1500 hectares is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and a Special Protection Area (SPA). In addition to the grassland the site supports large areas of mixed scrub, including juniper, and broadleaved, mixed and coniferous woodland. These habitats contain many rare and characteristic plants. Porton Down also contains 20% of the Southern England juniper population as well as 15 species of invertebrates endemic to Juniper. It is also one of the best butterfly sites in the UK with 44 species being recorded. The ECN monitoring takes place at the heart of the site on the chalk downland and takes in some of the sites special features. The ECN protocols that are undertaken on Porton Down include Atmospheric chemistry, Precipitation chemistry and Weather data. Ecological data includes Rabbits, Birds, Butterflies, Moths, Ground Predators and Spiders.

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General Characteristics, Purpose, History

Site Status: 


Year Site Established: 


Size : 

1 227.00ha

Purpose of Site : 

The area is used for military research by Defence Science and Technology Laboratory. The land is closed to the public and no livestock is allowed on the site. The only grazing is undertaken by the extremely high rabbit population. Its protected area, the largest uninterrupted tract of semi-natural chalk grassland in Britain, is where the UK Environmental Change Network programme monitoring takes place. An in-house team manage the up-keep of the area and undertakes other ecological research and monitoring of the sites Stone-curlew population, which has been part of a LIFE Project.

Research Topics: 


  • The antscape - Dstl
  • Simms Valley - Dstl
  • Chalk downland - Dstl
  • Juniper - Dstl


Latitude: 51.116700000000
Longitude: -1.650000000000