Eastern South Downs Farmers Group
The Eastern South Downs group is currently made up of 45 holdings spread between the Adur and Eastbourne although it is expected that more will join as the project evolves.
All 8 priority habitats (except Lowland Dry Acid Grassland) occur in the area. Maintenance of these is a high priority as is restoration for calcareous grassland and flood plain grazing marsh. Reducing fragmentation by creating links and connecting management across holdings. This has benefits for water and air quality and flooding. It will build on the legacy of the South Downs Way Ahead NIA.
Chalk grassland habitat management is beneficial for butterflies including chalkhill blues and duke of burgundy. Facilitating links between SSSI owners, managers and neighbours to improve site management and buffering.
The area is a hotspot for corn bunting, lapwing, grey partridge, linnet, skylark and yellowhammer. It also hosts rare and range restricted birds including stone-curlew. The group will aim to boost farmland bird numbers by coordinating the ‘Big 3’ at a landscape scale. Birds don’t recognise farm boundaries, so working at this scale provides better connectivity and resilience.
The project will further help these and other species by encourage uptake of The Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package as part of CSS. Using the package as a framework to guide the amendment of existing schemes where appropriate. The package will also be used at a landscape scale to complement Ecological Focus Areas.