The South Downs National Park has been recognised as a nationally important and diverse area with outstanding natural beauty and rich cultural heritage. One of the statutory responsibilities and purposes of being a National Park is to conserve and enhance these special qualities.
Spanning a breadth of 160 kilometres, the landscape of the South Downs encompasses over 20 kilometres of heritage coast, nature reserves, historic monuments, visitor attractions, listed buildings and conservation areas. Its geography provides a spectacular mix of geology, landscape character and biodiversity from which we can learn, enjoy and appreciate the wonders of the area and the important benefits it can provide for us all, often on our own doorsteps.
Now home to over 108,000 people, the South Downs area bears evidence of human habitation over thousands of years. This is a landscape shaped by people and engrained with their history and culture, evident in the thousands of archaeological monuments, parks and gardens, historic houses, large estates, small farms, market towns and villages, as well as artefacts and works of art held in country houses and museums located throughout the Downs. It is also a landscape of artists, writers and musicians, who have long been attracted and inspired by its very special qualities.
The Authority employs lead officers in Biodiversity, Cultural Heritage, Landscape, Learning and Outreach, Communities, Rural Economy, and Access and Recreation. They work closely with our Operations Team of Area Managers and Rangers, who are supported by the Voluntary Rangers and other volunteers involved in seasonal and practical work. Those who farm and manage the land are central to the future of much of this landscape.
It is inevitable and appropriate that this cultural landscape has and will continue to evolve. Managing this change in ways, and in partnerships, that conserve and enhance its special qualities, as well as sustaining existing communities, is essential if future generations are to have a chance to appreciate what we have today.