oil on canvas
45cm x 35cm
Iain White 2016
On the broader summit ridges and plateaux in the Foinaven massif siliceous alpine and boreal grasslands are the most extensive type of vegetation above c. 750m. They are one of the few near-natural communities remaining in the UK. There is a strong montane element including several uncommon vascular plants, mosses and liverworts though their composition is influenced by contrasting extremes of exposure and snow-lie. They often form an intricate vegetation mosaic with Alpine and Boreal heaths determined as by patterns of surface stability, topography, shelter, exposure, drainage and snowlie.
Indeed the Foinaven massif is an important location for the rarer of these heaths in the more highly oceanic parts of north-west Scotland. These include extensive examples of very local heaths, restricted to a few sites. Vaccinium myrtillus – Rhacomitrium lanuginosum heath, Calluna vulgaris – Rhacomitrium lanuginosum heath and Calluna vulgaris – Juniperus communis ssp. nana heath with a diverse assemblage of Atlantic liverworts and mosses unique to the UK occur extensively over the huge areas of quartzite rock debris on the summit ridges and festooned across the upper slopes as terraces and lobes.