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Conserving our Landscape

At different times over the millennia, the chalk hills have had large sections cleared of forests to make way for grazing. Over the centuries a mosaic of hedgerows has delineated the fields, slopes and woodlands. Today, there are ever more rows of vines. The landscape of the South Downs is an evolving record of how we choose to cultivate the land.

Our interaction with the landscape has always happened in response to what the Downs naturally provides. The vines stretch up south-facing slopes. Villages like Fulking are sited where the springs bubble forth from the chalk.

Everywhere the landscape is distinctive for its diversity. There are some of the oldest yew forests in the world. Chalk grasslands home to rare wildlife with names like round-headed rampion and Adonis blue. English heaths where you can still find snakes and lizards. And orchards, pastures and vineyards home to ancient apple varieties, Pinot Meunier grapes and the indigenous South Downs sheep.

To discover more about the many different habitats that make up this landscape, why they matter and what we are doing to preserve them, click on any of the image links in this section. And if you want to get involved, the volunteering page has information on how you can lend a hand.