Project information

Enriching The Sussex Downs

The South Downs grassland is constantly in danger of being overshadowed by tree re-growth. Sussex Wildlife Trust is looking to lead volunteer groups out onto these slopes to clear encroaching scrub, allowing light & space for the orchids & wildflowers to flourish on three downland sites.

October 2012 - February 2013

Charity information

Sussex Wildlife Trust

Sussex Wildlife Trust logo
  • Need


    Encroaching scrub has grown over and smothered the bio-diverse and rare chalk grasslands of the Sussex Downs.


    Volunteers will cut the scrub back which will then be followed by the introduction of grazing animals to keep it back.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Restore chalk grassland to the Sussex Downs, creating the conditions for rare wildflowers to thrive.


    » Clear scrub
    » Ensure the site is made safe for grazing animals
    » Reintroduce grazing animals

    Success will be judge by monitoring and evaluation conducted by SWT's ecologist.

    Aim 2

    For volunteers to feel that they are participating in the restoration of important local sites.


    » By providing the opportunity for local volunteers to join us on work party days to do the tasks
    » by encouraging those volunteers to make a long-term commitment to the site.

    SWT will report progress in it's members magazine, online and in a volunteer newsletter.

  • Impact


    It will restore a lost landscape for everyone to enjoy, and a niche for wildlife to occupy that has become scarce over recent decades.


    1. Shortage of Volunteers - We use our website & those of other organisations that encourage volunteering to attract new volunteers. We distribute a newsletter to our existing 400 volunteers alerting them to our work and encouraging them to help.

    2. Vehicle and equipment breakdowns - Staff carry out weekly safety checks to our 4x4 to ensure it complies with all road legislation and experienced volunteers regularly check all tools at our headquarters depot.


    Reports will be posted our website and blogs. The financial reporting will be included in our audited accounts. In addition articles will appear in our members magazine and e-newsletter.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £6,625

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £4,500 staff time Volunteer Scrub Clearance Supervision @ £150.00per day x 30 days per annum
      £1,000 fencing Southerham Reserve Fencing Repairs
      £599 tools & travel Cutters & loppers. Volunteer travel costs
      £526 safety equipment Safety gloves, goggles, boots & hats
  • Background


    These three Sussex Wildlife Trust nature reserves lie within the South Downs National Park. Southerham and Malling Down sit next to each other atop the inland cliffs near the town of Lewes. Together they cover an area of over 220 hectares and have SSSI and SAC status. The third is Ditchling Beacon, on the South Downs Way. Totalling 20 hectares & also a SSSI, it has been in SWT's possession since 1976 but some new land was acquired in 2010, & it is that area that needs the volunteer's attention.


    Conserving and restoring chalk grassland landscape which is an international threatened habitat.
    The wildlife, this important habitat supports, includes rare butterflies, plants and orchids.
    Local populations of Lewes, Ringmer and Ditchling, and visitors to the South Downs National Park.

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Sussex Wildlife Trust are the owners and long-term guardians of the three nature reserves, and as such are bound to do all we can to safeguard and improve the land for both the enjoyment of the people of Sussex and the enrichment of the habitat for wildlife.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Steve Tillman

    Sussex born and bred and a Reserves Officer with SWT for 11 years, Steve's passion is chalk grasslands. He will be leading the volunteer groups.

    Graeme Lyons

    SWT's ecologist, uses his natural history knowledge and scientific working methods to report on the ecological effects and benefits of this work.

    Approx 24 Local Volunteers

    Mostly be local residents, community-minded with a special interest in nature, love being outdoors and enjoy the physical exercise of clearance work.

Save the Sussex Downs