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Wildlife & Management

Unique Open Landscapes, Hidden Treasures

Heathland is a haven for some of Britain’s rarest wildlife. An open unique landscape teeming with hidden treasures and historical tales, no two heaths are the same.

The South Downs is home to the only heath in the country where you can find all twelve of our native reptiles and amphibians. Including the Natterjack Toad and Sand Lizard  as well as Adders.

Woodlark Sundew adder nightjar Plebeius argus_Silver-studded blue

The Silver Studded Blue butterfly has undergone a major decline in numbers during recent years, mainly due to heathland habitat restrictions. It can be found in good numbers on sites across the project area. However this butterfly rarely flies any distance, sometimes moving less then 20m in its lifetime. There is hope that the project will enable the silver studded to spread through the creation of wildlife corridors.

Nightjars suffered a huge decline in the 1980’s due to the loss of heathland habitats and are particularly vulnerable to disturbance as they nest on the ground. In summer the sky is punctuated with the churring cry of the nightjar, which makes its annual migration here all the way from Southern Africa.

The Woodlark also nests on the ground and its favourite habitat is the low and open vegetation of the heaths. Its nesting season begins earlier than that of the Nightjar’s, starting in March.

In the National Park’s wetter heaths and mires, you’ll find sphagnum moss and the carnivorous sundew plant, which can consume up to 3000 bothersome midges a year.

Heaths are shared spaces that need people

If heathlands aren’t actively managed by people they will be lost.  Heathland is a man made habitat and if it isn’t actively managed it quickly turns to woodland. The lack of management and an increase in development, agriculture and other pressures over the past two centuries is what has lead to its decline.

Heathland management techniques include:

-Scrub Removal
-Grazing
-Controlled Burning
-Rotational Mowing
-Creation of Bare Ground

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