fbpx Skip to main content

Nature Recovery for land managers

Nature Recovery for land managers


National Parks sit at the heart of the nation’s nature recovery network; they are places where wildlife flourishes, habitats are maintained, restored, and expanded, and where everyone can experience nature and wildlife at their best. They will form the backbone of nature recovery.

The National Parks are working together to deliver a collective response to the nature crisis, and as custodians of the land and those with intimate knowledge of its qualities and potential, farmers and land managers play a key role in helping to deliver on nature recovery.

While it is important that we focus on the right habitats in the right places, importantly, nature recovery can happen anywhere, at any scale and everyone can help make it happen and turn the tide for nature. We want to enhance and expand our most important designated wildlife sites but also make space for a nature friendly approach everywhere. This initiative is not just about the rare but nature everywhere, for everone.

The South Downs National Park Authority will support nature recovery at all levels, offering advice and helping to facilitate action.

Helping nature to recover can also have wider benefits, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, flood alleviation, improvements to soil and water quality and benefits to our health and wellbeing.

Quick step guide to Nature Recovery


The South Downs People and Nature Network (PANN) aims to protect, enhance and create a network of green and blue spaces, which sustainably meet the needs of local communities, support natural ecosystem services and respects the special qualities of protected landscapes by proposing the strategic principles for the planning, delivery and management of natural capital assets in the area.

The PANN identifies broad investment areas.  The nature recovery work will complement the PANN but also looks at the core areas for wildlife and wider opportunities for delivery for nature across the National Park and beyond.


What’s on my farm?

The first stage in formulating a plan for nature recovery is to understand what is already on your farm.  There are considerable resources available to assist with this:

The SDNPA can also provide further advice on Nature recovery interventions suitable to your local landscape types.

It is important to consider other potential constraints; these may include cultural heritage issues such as scheduled ancient monuments or important archaeological features.  Another consideration will be current public access.

If unsure what may be on your land, it is worth seeking advice from county archaeologists or from the National Park team Access Team for access issues by emailing info@southdowns.gov.uk

Wider benefits of Nature Recovery

Helping nature to recover can also have wider benefits, helping to mitigate the effects of climate change, assisting with flood alleviation, improvements to soil health and water quality, creating opportunities for business diversification and benefits to our health and wellbeing.

For Nature and Nature Friendly

Interventions for nature will focus on the principles set out by Sir John Lawton.  Bigger, better, more and joined up, ( Making Space for Nature: (nationalarchives.gov.uk) . This will mean improved management of existing habitats, expanding and connecting habitats and creation of new areas of priority habitats.  These are areas dedicated to nature.

Nature friendly interventions can take place anywhere, in productive farmland, on road verges, in villages and gardens. Consider how alongside agricultural production you can make space for Nature, Some suggestions are included below;

  • Buffer strips to hedgerows, woodlands and watercourses.
  • Create or restore ponds
  • Introduce pollinator mixes and pollinator strips.
  • Increase species diversity in semi improved and improved grasslands.
  • Provide winter stubbles, bird feed mixes, and arable weeds.
  • Bird and bat boxes


Nature recovery is all about networks, connecting key habitat areas and providing corridors for wildlife.  Consider how interventions can be linked on and beyond your farm, working with neighbours or through a wider farm cluster group.  There may also be wider benefits such as sharing of machinery for some management activities or livestock for conservation grazing.

The SDNPA can provide further advice on mapping for a Nature network.

Delivery Mechanisms and Sources of Funding

This is a fast evolving area, with carbon and nitrate offsetting, Biodiversity net gain, ELM and many other potential funding streams and delivery mechanisms.  The South Downs Trust is also working with the SDNPA on a campaign to help deliver Nature recovery on an ambitious scale.

The SDNPA can provide further information on a range of delivery mechanisms and funding opportunities.

Future Management

Whilst some natural habitats look after themselves others will need a level of future management, Chalk grassland, for example, will require a sustainable grazing regime to prevent dominance of tor grass or scrub species.   Newly planted trees may need care and ponds may need occasional clearance.

Consider future maintenance requirements at the development stage and build this into the funding required.

There is a wealth of supporting information available, please see the on line resources section below

The SDNPA can offer advice on habitat management and signpost to other support such as links to sustainable conservation grazing projects.

Surveys and Monitoring

Information on current wildlife and habitats will help to inform your decisions on future changes.

Getting help

The South Downs National Park Authority is supporting nature recovery at all levels, offering advice and helping to facilitate action.

We’ve produced guidance on gaining consents, permissions and other key considerations when embarking on a ReNature project.

We can offer more information on nature recovery interventions suitable to your local landscape types, mapping for a Nature network, monitoring, and delivery mechanisms and funding opportunities.

We can also sign post to other areas of advice.

Contact us on info@southdowns.gov.uk or Naturerecovery@southdowns.gov.uk  through our reception on 01730 814810 or speak to your local ranger.

Online resources

  • The Woodland Trust – for information on hedgerows, tree planting, woodland planting and community woodlands. RSPB also have advice.
  • The Woodland Trust – woodland creation guide.
  • Freshwater Habitats Trust – for information on pond creation and management
  • RSPB – for advice on wildlife in your garden and local community.
  • Buglife – for information on pollinators and bees.
  • RSPB – for specific advice on a wide range of information on habitat management including field margins, beetle banks and ditches.
  • Guidance on interventions for natural flood management working with natural processes can be found here.
  • The Lawton report on making space for nature with details of bigger, better, and more joined up habitats.
  • Forestry Commission – reasons why farmers should consider planting trees.
  • Forestry Commission – the case for trees.
  • Sussex Nature Partnership – Parks for nature and people: a toolkit for park managers


    "The Downs...too much for one pair of eyes, enough to float a whole population in happiness."