New Life For Chalk Grassland

New Life for Chalk Grassland Bissett Down Reserve Wiltshire WT cpt Steve DayNew Life for Chalk Grassland Bissett Down Reserve Wiltshire WT cpt Steve Day

important on a global scale... and under threat

Wiltshire Wildlife Trust

360 view

The steep chalk escarpments of Wiltshire define the County but are also important on a global scale.

The UK is a stronghold for chalk grassland and Wiltshire contains 40% of the world total.

The wildflower-rich sward and associated birds, mammals and insects that together form the intricate beauty of chalk grassland are under threat, and their numbers are declining. The Trust’s New Life for Chalk Grassland project aims to help halt this process by restoring grassland and reverting marginal arable land back to grassland.

Virtual tour by Mike McFarlane 

360 view

What's happening?

Since 2008, we have:

  • Rebuilt the habitat mosaic over a vast area.
  • Identified areas between sites that could be reseeded with downland species, thereby starting the whole process of linking isolated areas.
  • Reinstated grazing where grassland has become overgrown.
  • Offered free advice to landowners on chalk grassland and grant-aid schemes.
  • Set up a farming enterprise that will supply Dexter cattle and native breed sheep for grazing to keep down brambles, hawthorns, ash seedlings and coarse grasses, which left unattended, would shade out the wildflowers.

With our expert project team working alongside landowners and offering free advice on chalk grassland management and grant-aid schemes, we’ve been able to begin sustaining viable populations by creating suitable, accessible habitats across a wider region, reseeding areas between the broader sites with downland flora species. 

Our work, jointly funded by Grantscape and Biffaward, continues to make progress.

Start date: 2008

Scheme area: 158,990 hectares

Trust reserves within the scheme

Clouts Wood & Markham Banks, Morgans Hill, Smallbrook Meadow,
Langford Lakes, Little Langford Down, Middleton Down,
Coombe Bissett Down, Cockey Down

This scheme is helping species including...

Brown hare, skylark, stone curlew, tree pipit, burnt-tip orchid, chalk milkwort, juniper, Duke of Burgundy, Adonis blue, marsh fritillary, and chalkhill blue butterflies.

Current threats to the landscape

Habitat loss, fragmentation and degradation

This scheme is also...

Helping wildlife adapt to climate change, providing volunteering opportunities and producing local food

To find out more

Email: info@wiltshirewildlife.org | Tel: 01380 725670

Living Landscapes

Find out more about our Living Landscape conservation work - targeting areas for landscape-scale nature conservation  and transforming places for people and wildlife.

Farming & wildlife

Find out more about our farmland conservation work with farmers and landowners, and on our own wildlife-friendly demonstration farms.