Chalk Grassland

1. Definition

Chalk grassland is one of the richest habitats of Western Europe, containing a great diversity of plants and animals. However, it is now very rare and fragmented, and is of international conservation concern.

The National Habitat Action Plan provides the following definition:

Lowland calcareous grasslands (including chalk grassland) are developed on shallow lime-rich soils generally overlying limestone rocks, including chalk.

Calcareous soils overlying rocks such as limestone occur all over the World. However, chalk only occurs in northwestern Europe, so the surviving chalk grassland is exceptionally rare. (Appendix 1 lists the vegetation types that make up “chalk grassland” as used in this Sussex Chalk Grassland Habitat Action Plan.)

On the South Downs (Winchester to Eastbourne) chalk grassland is now a tiny relic of a once extensive, open landscape, created thousands of years ago. It is characterised by a mixture of grasses and wildflowers, in particular herbs, with few shrubs or trees. It only occurs where soils are thin, well drained and nutrient-poor, overlaying the porous chalk bedrock.

The compact, springy sward and its rich flora and fauna is dependent on appropriate grazing by livestock It is vulnerable to fertilisers and pesticides that reduce the variety of plants and animals. When grazing is absent, chalk grassland is rapidly taken over by coarse grasses and shrubs leading to a loss of the characteristic low-growing flowering plants and associated animals.

Chalk geology is rare in the World, confined to northwest Europe; thus it is of global importance. Orchid-rich chalk grassland is identified as a priority in the European Habitats Directive. Key aims must be to conserve and enhance what is left and embark on a programme of chalk grassland landscape restoration.Chalk

2. Current Status and Distribution [top]

Current estimates put the amount of lowland calcareous grassland left in the United Kingdom at 33,000 to 41,000 ha with the bulk of the resource being found on chalk (25,000 to 32,000 ha). The South Downs forms one of the major areas of chalk grassland in the UK, the extent of the habitat being some 4,000 ha (around 1,500 in Hampshire; 2,500 in Sussex).

Chalk grassland, once widespread on the South Downs, now covers only an estimated 3% of the area. A massive decline in sheep grazing this century, and corresponding conversion to arable farming, are the main factors leading to the disappearance of the habitat. The once extensive grasslands of the south-facing dip slope have mostly been ploughed up. Chalk grassland is now largely confined to the steeper slopes, such as along valley sides and notably the steep north-facing escarpment. To the east, the escarpment is typically open and contains a high proportion of chalk grassland, but further west the escarpment becomes progressively more wooded.

3. Biodiversity of Chalk Grassland [top]

Chalk grasslands are mentioned under the Priority Habitat Action Plans (HAPs), for which the UK has international obligations (UK Biodiversity Group 1998). The chalk grasslands which are so characteristic of the South Downs developed and remain as a direct result of grazing by wild and domesticated animals over thousands of years. Their long association with man should not be under-estimated. Today they are among the most species-rich plant communities in Western Europe, supporting diverse communities of plants and animals, many of which are nationally or internationally rare or endangered.

a) Flora

Chalk grassland may support over 50 species of flowering plant per square metre. The varied landscape and habitats on the South Downs add to the rich biodiversity.

Chalk grasslands of the UK show great variation in response to climatic differences. In the south-east, they harbour warmth-loving species that are absent from the north and west of the UK, including round-headed rampion (found mainly on the South Downs in the UK), musk orchid and dwarf thistle. Many of these southern species thrive best on the south-facing slopes of the Downs where they receive the maximum amount of warmth. These sites provide the northernmost outposts of some European species including the rare early spider orchid. With the north-slope bryophytes (in a cooler and damper habitat) and the less warmth-demanding species, these communities give the chalk grasslands of the South Downs their unique ecological character.

b) Fauna

There is a rich diversity of insect and other small animal life on the South Downs, with scarce butterfly species such as the Adonis blue, silver-spotted skipper and Duke of Burgundy, as well as the wart-biter cricket. Some of the richest and most important sites for snails are the south-facing grasslands. Several sites support significant populations of the nationally rare Carthusian snail.

Chalk grassland provides feeding or breeding habitat for a number of threatened birds, including the skylark and corn bunting. Stone curlew and wheatear no longer breed on the South Downs. Habitat restoration may be possible, to promote their re-colonisation.

c) Associated Habitats

In the South Downs, chalk grassland makes up part of a mosaic of different habitats including chalk heath, juniper and mixed scrub, woodland, neutral and improved grassland, hedgerows, arable farmland and also dew ponds, which are important wildlife oases. Together, they form the wider landscape of the South Downs, reflecting its history and culture.

The decline in grazing and a resultant spread of scrub has destroyed many areas of chalk grassland. Scrub continues to encroach onto existing areas of chalk grassland. It has always been part of the downland ecosystem and its presence is important in diversifying the downland landscape, providing habitat for many downland species, but a balance needs to be achieved. The scrub-grassland edge exhibits particularly high species diversity, especially where there is a varied structure, and can support species such as the Duke of Burgundy butterfly, reptiles and small mammals. Some shrub species are themselves sufficiently rare to merit special attention. For example, on the South Downs, juniper is now confined to a few sites in West Sussex and neighbouring Hampshire.

Chalk heath is a unique combination of plants commonly found on chalk grassland (including species such as dropwort and salad burnet) alongside plants commonly found on acid heathland (such as heather, tormentil and heath bedstraw). Chalk heath is a nationally rare habitat that has always been restricted to south and southeast England. At the beginning of this century chalk heath was fairly common along the top of the Downs, but today it is very limited in extent, with a total area of less than 100 ha.

4. Cultural Significance/Benefits to the Community [top]

The cultural significance of chalk grassland has its roots in land-use, dating back over 6000 years. Many comprehensive texts have been written about the history and archaeology of the South Downs. (See References for more details.)

The South Downs was the first area of Sussex to be colonised in Neolithic times. At that time large scale woodland clearance was started. It was this clearance, in conjunction with the later introduction of livestock farming, particularly sheep, which created the open chalk grassland landscape.

Much evidence of human association with the Downs has been preserved in the chalk grassland. The area is rich in archaeological sites, many of which are Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Important sites include Bronze and Iron Age barrows, Iron Age hill forts and Roman artefacts such as temples, roads and settlements. Medieval field patterns can still be seen, although most are now in arable fields. In more recent times artists, musicians and writers, such as Rudyard Kipling and Hillaire Belloc, have been inspired by the downland landscape.

Today, chalk grassland and its rich wildlife give benefit to the wider community as a valuable informal recreational resource. In places, there is good access into pleasant surroundings, with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. People are passionate about the Downs and many are engaged in volunteering to help conserve the habitat. The special qualities of this habitat, with its wildlife, historic and landscape value, is also a tremendous educational resource. These three qualities set the objectives of the South Downs Environmentally Sensitive Area (ESA) scheme.

5. Benefits to Local Business [top]

Traditionally, the South Downs provided important winter sheep grazing from spring/summer grazed lowlands. Livestock still remains the key to the conservation of chalk grassland; however, this is dependent on a viable industry. This is not easy with the low productivity of chalk grassland and decline in the livestock market. Ways of enhancing the value of grazing by both cattle and sheep need to be fully explored. Apart from the management support through the ESA scheme, the marketing of local produce to stimulate demand would be a great help. There is a timely opportunity to promote the link between a sympathetically managed countryside, with animal welfare, environmental benefits and a quality product to the huge local markets along the coastal conurbations, up to London and across the Channel to neighbouring France.

Complementary “green tourism” helps boost the value and raise the cultural profile of the extensive farming methods of the Downs, thereby supporting both the local farming economy and community. Small businesses can benefit from this natural resource, for example through trade to local retailers.

6. Trends and Threats [top]

The sheep grazing that helped maintain the chalk grassland was probably at its peak in the late 17th century. In the early parts of the nineteenth century, downland grass covered more than 50% of the South Downs. The Napoleonic and First World Wars saw an increase in arable farming as food demands rose. Grassland returned in the 1920s and 30s, but the agricultural depression meant that many farmers abandoned sheep farming. In some areas rabbits were the only grazers, until the introduction of myxomatosis in 1954. This reduced grazing pressure allowed the development of coarse grasses and scrub encroachment, leading to secondary woodland.

Large-scale losses of chalk grassland occurred after the Second World War, with the push for increased food production. Modern intensive farming, devoted to arable crops and grass leys, largely replaced the extensive grazing management. About a fifth of the country s chalk grassland was lost in only fourteen years between 1966 and 1980. Today, on the South Downs, it covers only 3% of the area. The remaining resource is largely confined to slopes too steep to plough, such as the north-facing escarpment. Hence the rarity of species on the few remaining south-facing slopes.

Other losses have been through commercial tree plantations, notably Ftiston, Charlton and Singleton Forests. Other areas have been lost to housing and road construction. Mineral extraction has had a localised impact, but some former quarries, such as that at Heyshott Down, are now important chalk grassland sites.

Today, chalk grassland is still under threat. Scrub encroachment continues to reduce the chalk grassland resource, despite clearance and management in some areas. Rabbits have little or no effect on controlling establishing scrub vegetation. Increasing disease resistance and a reduction in control measures means that rabbit numbers have risen dramatically, causing erosion through enlarged warrens and localised overgrazing.

The combination of the decline in grazing and the deposition of atmospheric nitrogen (through, for example, industrial or vehicle emissions) are thought to be responsible for the current spread of tor grass. This is invading over some areas of chalk grassland on the eastern Downs, commonly dominating the sward and excluding rarer species.

Chalk grassland is highly sensitive to chemical inputs. In an effort to improve yields many farmers have applied fertilisers and selective herbicides to their old downland pastures. As with reduced grazing, the more vigorous species have benefited, leading to a loss of biodiversity Neglect or ploughing for game cover or crops has resulted in other sites being lost.

For a number of the above reasons, much of the chalk grassland has become reduced in area and fragmented. This fragmentation causes isolation and makes populations less viable and ultimately vulnerable to localised extinction from events such as fire, disease, unusual weather and predation. Another threat is from localised recreational pressures and abuse, such as four-wheel-drive, motorbike scrambling, rave parties and fly-tipping. Fragmentation often makes management less economically viable. Penning sheep into these areas can lead to nutrient enrichment through dunging (traditionally, sheep were folded onto arable land off the hill pastures).

The designation of the South Downs as an ESA in 1987 has brought back neglected areas of chalk grassland into sympathetic management. It has also supported the continued maintenance of chalk grassland. In addition, nearly 6,000 ha of arable land has been reverted back to grassland under the scheme, with about 10% sown with a chalk grassland seed mix. However, reversion back to species-rich chalk grassland is a slow process and results are variable depending on the seed mixture, topography, aspect, proximity to seed sources, soil type and depth, and historical land-use.

Changes have been made to the ESA scheme over the years to take account of chalk grassland management issues; for example, payments for scrub clearance, fencing and water supplies. However, the area payments for managing chalk grassland have to compete with Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) production subsidies, limiting take-up of the scheme. Farmers also have the option to withdraw from their ten-year voluntary agreements after five years if they feel the scheme no longer suits their requirements. It is to be hoped that agricultural policy reform will improve the prospects for long-term commitment to agri-environment schemes and provide an opportunity to link farming economics with social and environmental imperatives.

Sympathetic land ownership and management have also benefited chalk grassland. For example, Eastbourne Borough Council has reverted 400 ha of its land to downland pasture. The National Trust owns around 4,000 ha of land within the South Downs, much purchased through their South Downs Appeal; about 20% is grazed chalk grassland. The Sussex Wildlife Trust manages three downland reserves: Levin Down, Ditchling Beacon and Malling Down. English Nature manages four National Nature Reserves (NNRs), three of which include candidate Special Areas of Conservation and has agreements with owners of several Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) which encourage sympathetic management of chalk grassland. Some sites are designated as Sites of Nature Conservation Importance (SNCIs) by local authorities, with some managed under ESA agreement. The Sussex Downs Conservation Board helps raise awareness of downland issues, supports chalk grassland projects and manages the 300 ha Seven Sisters Country Park.

Chalk Grassland HAP

7. Potential [top]

The potential to expand and enhance the chalk grassland resource is considerable. A variety of schemes exist for sympathetic management and restoration of chalk grassland as well as for arable reversion. More details of these schemes are given in Section 9. The Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) process should focus organisations policies and practices on exploiting the opportunities to improve downland conservation. This could include:

” Policy initiatives from the European level (e.g. Habitats Directives) to national government (such as through the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food or Countryside Agency); also regionally (e.g. South East Economic Development Agency) and locally (through county and district councils);

” European partners, particularly those associated with INTERREG projects sources of information sharing or exchange, linked to European funds for allied projects;

” Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – ESA scheme, grassland and scrub management plans, farmer awareness;

” Country Landowners Association/National Farmers Union – promoting environmentally sympathetic management practices and endorsement of biodiversity action;

” Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group – helping implement BAPs

” Local authorities – Local Nature Reserves, land ownership, tenancy agreements, SNCIs, road verge management, development control, farmers markets;

” Environment Agency/Water companies – aquifer protection, management of land holdings;

” Sussex Wildlife Trust and other conservation trusts – nature reserve management and environmental education;

” National Trust – acquisitions (South Downs Appeal), management of downland;

” English Nature – NNRs, grant schemes and Site Management Statements, SSSIs, European sites, development control;

” Sussex Downs Conservation Board and successor Authority – advice, grants and practical management (such as scrub clearance and “non-profit” grazing), local marketing initiatives and development control;

” Major funding initiatives such as Heritage Lottery Funding, Landfill Tax, European funding,

” Specialist groups such as the Society of Sussex Downsmen, British Butterfly Conservation Society British Herpetological Society – provision of information and support;

” Local communities and their involvement;

” Commoners and the management of Common Land;

” English Heritage / archaelogical societies – improved conservation of archaeological sites.

” Soil Association / organic farming organisations – liason over common goals in organic farming and chalk grassland conservation in particular.

8. Current Action [top]

i) Site Protection

Landscape and wildlife designated areas are identified in County Structure Plans and District Local Plans and are thus given some protection from adverse forms of development. European sites such as Special Areas of Conservation will be further protected as new legislation, for example the Habitat Regulations, is developed. Government advice, such .as planning policy guidance, supplements any legislation. There are 24 SSSIs in Sussex, which have a chalk grassland component and therefore receive some protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

ii) Site Management

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food provides incentives through its agri-environment schemes. The most significant for the South Downs is the ESA scheme (see Section 9).

English Nature gives grant-aid through Management Agreements and the Reserves Enhancement Scheme; most SSSIs are being managed under these or ESA agreements. The Sussex Downs Conservation Board undertakes practical chalk grassland management, including advice and financial help in certain situations.

All of the above serve to support the extremely important role played by landowners and tenants, particularly farmers, in conserving chalk grassland.

European schemes may also provide support for the conservation of chalk grassland. For example, INTERREG provides funds for the exchange of information and expertise under a variety of themes, including nature conservation, between East Sussex and neighbouring French regions.

Recognised conservation bodies such as English Nature, the National Trust and the Sussex Wildlife Trust own and manage areas specifically for nature conservation. Other bodies, including the Forestry Commission, local authorities and water companies also own and manage land with nature conservation as a key objective.

iii) Information Exchange

There are many and diverse organisations and methods operating in this area. For chalk grassland generally:

” The Downland Practitioners Network provides a national mechanism for the exchange of ideas and information.

” The Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre gathers and disseminates biological information.

” Links with those organisations in France aiming to conserve and enhance chalk grassland provide information and support for future efforts in the South Downs.

” Actions and co-operative efforts such as these at the local level inform the process of CAP reform at a national and European level  inevitably of vital importance in the development of future agricultural policies and their effects on the chalk grassland resource.

” Chalk grassland issues are occasionally highlighted in the national and local media, but more could be done to raise the profile.

Specific to the South Downs:

” The South Downs ESA Liaison Group helps influence and directs the work of the ESA scheme and encourages information exchange between the relevant parties.

” Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have been developed for the South Downs as both research and practical management tools. The Universities of Brighton and Nottingham in particular, working with other partners, have brought together information relating to land-use, conservation status, chalk grassland potential, etc.

” The Sussex Chalk Grassland Biodiversity Working Group acts as a local information exchange and will seek implementation of the HAP through unified action.

” Information to the public is provided by many organisations. For example:

the Sussex Wildlife Trust have nature reserve boards and leaflets; internet access is being developed by the Sussex Downs Conservation Board; guided walks are led by many organisations such as English Nature, the National Trust and local authorities.

9. Existing Incentive Schemes [top]

ESA scheme

Set up under the 1986 Agriculture Act, to benefit landscape, wildlife and archaeology, farmers can enter land into a ten-year management agreement, with an optional break clause after five years. The scheme has various tiers, with farmers receiving annual payments, which vary according to the land management practices required. Grant-aid is also available for capital works that meet the aims of the scheme. Payments are based on income foregone (ie from not following more intensive management) and are reviewed every two years. There is a comprehensive review of the scheme every five years. Appendix 2 summarises take-up to date. It should be noted that some land comes out after five or ten years, other land is newly entered. The tiers specific to chalk grassland are:

Tier 1- Permanent Grassland on the Chalk

Payments are made for managing permanent grassland by grazing with sheep and/or cattle at appropriate levels. Cultivation and the use of fertilisers are not permitted; nor are pesticides, except for spot treatment of weeds.

Tier 3A – Reversion of Arable Land to Chalk Grassland

Payments are made to revert arable land to grassland using a diverse seed mixture, which must then be managed according to Tier 1 management prescriptions. Successful reversion of arable to species-rich chalk grassland is a long-term process and initial results have been variable. The ESA Project Officer is encouraging the development of a local seed harvesting initiative.

Tier 3B – Reversion to Permanent Grassland

Payments are made to revert arable land to grassland using a seed mixture of the farmer’s choice; this usually consists of rye grass and white clover. Although this tier is primarily aimed at enhancing the landscape and protecting archaeological remains, where land adjoins existing chalk grassland it can help create viable grazing regimes and has the potential to buffer such areas from damaging agricultural inputs.

Conservation Plans

Additional grants are available for a range of capital works, either at a fixed rate or at a fixed percentage of costs depending on the operation in question. Eligible items that benefit chalk grassland management include stock fencing, scrub clearance, purchase of Tier 3A seed mixture and measures to enhance the botanical diversity of Tier 3B swards.

Grassland and Scrub Management Plans

All new Tier 1 and Tier 3A agreements are now subject to site-specific grassland and scrub management plans. These are designed to encourage sward diversity and scrub control, which should benefit downland wildlife.

Other Schemes

Although the Countryside Stewardship scheme includes downland landscapes, it is not really relevant as the ESA scheme covers most issues. There are a few Stewardship agreements for open access, as the ESA scheme only pays for linear access.

Of growing interest is organic food; this is promoted through the Organic Farming Scheme. This could help in the marketing of produce from the South Downs. In many instances the management requirements of the ESA and organic schemes are compatible, allowing farmers to benefit from both. However, it should be noted that in some circumstances organic management could prove detrimental to the conservation of chalk grassland (for example, a requirement to cut early silage, or to maintain clover-rich swards by regular re-seeding).

English Nature provides grants under its Reserves Enhancement Scheme. It also has SSSI management agreements, which encourage the conservation of chalk grassland. Proposed legislation aims to switch from compensatory payments (ie to stop a landowner damaging the wildlife interest) to payments for positive management.

10. Aim and Objectives [top]


To re-create the broad landscape qualities of chalk grassland.

The National Habitat Action Plan sets the following objectives for lowland calcareous grassland, which provide the context for the Sussex HAP:

Arrest the depletion of lowland calcareous grassland throughout the UK.

Within SSSIs, initiate rehabilitation management for all significant unimproved lowland calcareous grassland in unfavourable conservation condition by 2005, with the aim of achieving favourable status wherever feasible by 2010.

At other localities, secure favourable condition over 30% of the resource by 2005, and as near to 100% as is practicable by 2015.

Attempt to re-establish 1,000 ha of lowland calcareous grassland of wildlife value at carefully targeted sites by 2010.

Sussex Objectives

(lowland calcareous grassland = chalk grassland)

Maintain the integrity of all existing chalk grassland by preventing further loss and damage.
Ensure that all existing chalk grassland is maintained and enhanced by appropriate management.
Maintain and expand the area of chalk grassland by carefully targeted scrub management, where possible linking existing sites together.
Identify and restore all areas suitable for reversion to chalk grassland. Ideally these should buffer and/or link together existing sites.
Raise awareness of the importance of chalk grassland to the public, professionals and practitioners.
Ensure better co-ordination and co-operation of bodies that have an influence over chalk grassland, at the local, national and international level.

11. Targets [top]

All existing chalk grassland sites to be given appropriate international, national or local status by 2005.
All chalk grassland sites to be managed under an appropriate scheme by2005.
Increase by 10% the area of chalk grassland by the management of invasive species at suitable sites by 2005.
Increase the area of chalk grassland by reverting 750 ha of amble land and re-introducing appropriate management at suitable sites by 2005.
Increase the effectiveness of agri-environment schemes in achieving the HAP objectives (on-going timescale).
Use the GIS to develop a database and map of past and present chalk grassland sites by 2000, and further develop a GIS to analyse land-use and landscape features as a tool to inform future management and targeting effort.
Develop and implement a monitoring system for the status of chalk grassland by 2005 – progress on targets and status of chalk grassland.
Build links between the Sussex Chalk Grassland Working Group, the ESA liason group, and potential South Downs Authority (combining Sussex Downs & East Hampshire AONBs). Establish a South Downs Chalk Grassland Forum by 2000 to ensure the implementation of the HAP and associated Species Action Plans.
Develop European exchanges of information and action relating to chalk grasslands (on-going timescale).
Ensure that all relevant land-use policies support the objectives of the HAP in their next review (on-going timescale).

12. Costs [top]

The financial implications of managing and restoring chalk grassland will vary from site to site, depending on such factors as topography, access, farming system, current management and neighbouring land-use. Under the South Downs ESA scheme, payments are made for the management of existing chalk grassland and for reverting arable land to grassland. Payments are based on the income foregone when managing land extensively as opposed to intensively. 2000 figures are as follows:

Grazing of permanent grassland 60/hectare
Reversion to “chalk grassland” with appropriate seed mix 330/hectare

Some examples of the capital costs associated with bringing land back into grazing management, based on ESA capital payments, are as follows:

Sheep fencing 3-4/metre
Sheep fencing with rabbit netting 4-6/metre
Barbed wire fencing 2-3/metre
Clearance of dense scrub by hand on steep slopes 2000/hectare
(very variable, indicative cost only)
Mechanical clearance of scrub (50% density) 250/hectare
Provision of water supply (including trough) 150-200/100 metres

N.B. Any farmer considering applying to join the ESA scheme would weigh up the area-based payments, land and capital costs, etc before reaching any decision. An important factor in the success or otherwise of chalk grassland conservation is the prevailing production subsidies.

13. Actions

14. Monitoring and Review [top]

The Chalk Grassland Biodiversity Working Group shall monitor this Habitat Action Plan annually and report to the Sussex Biodiversity Steering Group. Monitoring will include an assessment of the actions carried out against the targets set and reviewing whether the objectives remain appropriate as circumstances change or in the light of new information. A full review and updating of the plan will be carried out at five-yearly intervals.

Chalk Grassland HAP
15. Consultation [top]

Appendix 5 gives the full list of those organisations and individuals consulted on the draft plan. A total of 32 replies came in responding to the final draft.

Appendices [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Appendix 1 [top]

The following National Vegetation Classification (NVC) Chalk Grassland types will be included, as they occur, either individually in association, or as part of a matrix with mixed chalk scrub, juniper scrub and chalk heath together. Throughout this document the term ‘chalk grassland’ includes the following NVC types.

NVC Chalk Grassland Communities recorded in Sussex

CG1: Festuca ovina-Carlina vulgaris grassland

All stands recorded in Sussex are of the CG1e sub-community. It is difficult to distinguish from CG2a but characteristically has a short sward with frequent patches of bare soil and scattered fragments of chalk Festuca ovina usually has high cover and other grasses are infrequent. This community is rare in Sussex.

CG2: Festuca ovina-Avenula pratensis grassland

Chalk grassland with species-rich dosed sward in which Festuca ovina is the most abundant grass and bulky grasses such as Brachypodium pinnatum, Avenula pubescens and Bromopsis erecta are absent or at low cover. CG2a is often referred to as the typical downland sward.

CG3: Bromopsis erecta grassland

This community includes all swards with a high cover (10% or more) of Bromopsis erecta and where other tail grasses, especially Brachypodium pinnatum and Arrhenatherum elatius are absent or have low cover.

CG4: Brachypodium pinnatum grassland

All swards with a high cover (10% or more) of Brachypodium pinnatum.

CG5: Bromopsis erecta-Brachipodium pinnatun grassland

Swards with roughly equal proportions of Bromopsis erecta and Brachypodium pinnatum. This community is generally associated with harder limestones. In Sussex it is a possible transitional stage between CG3 and CG4.transitional stage between CG3 and CG4.

Appendix 2 [top]

South Downs Environmentally Sensitive Area

Take-up by Farmers (FRCA statistics as at March 2000)

Tier 1: Management of chalk grassland 5,210 ha

Tier 3A Reversion of arable land using a “chalk grassland” seed mix 856 ha

Tier 3B: Reversion of arable land with seed mix selected by farmer 5,290 ha

Appendix 3 [top]

Key Species

Habitat Action Plans, both national and local, are the key to the National Biodiversity Action Plan as they aim to ensure the survival of whole naturally occurring assemblages of plant and animal species. At the same time, certain species merit special attention in the process, for a variety of reasons. They may be so rare or threatened (as in Table 1 below) to justify their own Action Plans to ensure their survival. Such Species Action Plans must complement the Action Plans for the habitats in which the species occur. In practice, however there will be sufficient detail in the Habitat Action Plans to ensure the well-being of most species.

Table 1 Short and Middle list species for chalk grassland in Sussex taken from the National Biodiversity Action Plan

Only the species whose names are in bold type are largely restricted to chalk grassland. Columns2-8 illustrate other degrees of protection or measures of rarity for the species

Appendix 4 [top]

References for Further Reading and Research

ADAS (1996) Environmental Monitoring in the South Downs 1987 – 1995

Armstrong J. R. (1961) A History of Sussex Phillimore

Blackstock T. H., Rimes C. A., Stevens D. P, Jefferson R. G., Robertson H. J., Mackintosh

J. and Hopkins J. J. (1999) The extent of semi-natural grassland communities in lowland

England and Wales: a review of conservation surveys 1987-96. Grass and Forage Science 54,

1-18 Blackwell Science Ltd.

Brandon P. (1974) The Sussex Landscape Hodder and Stoughton

Brandon P. (1998) The South Downs Phillimore

Brandon P. Short B. (1990) The South-east from AD 1000 Longman

Brighton Downs Consortium (1995) Brighton’s Downhnd A Vision for a People’s Countryside

Burwood C. (1999) Surrey Chalk Grassland Habitat Action Plan (draft)

Drewett P. Rudling D., Gardiner M. (1988) The South-east to AD 1000 Longman

English Nature (1999 2nd edition) Lowland Grassland Management Handbook English Nature

English Nature (1999) Lowland Grassland National Habitat Action Plan English Nature

English Nature (1997) South Downs Natural Area Profile English Nature

Department of the Environment (1994) Biodiversity The UK Action Plan HMSO

Gibson C.WD. & Brown V.K. (1991) The nature and rate of development of calcareous

grassland in Southern Britain. Biological Conservation, 58, 297- 316

MAFF (1997) South Downs ESA Guidelines for Farmers MAFF

Rorison I.H. (1990) Soils, Mineral Nutrition and Climate. In: Hillier S.H., Walton D.WH.

& Wells D.A. (eds) Calcareous Grasslands: ecology and management Bluntisham Books

Rose E (1993) Report on the Bryophytes and Lichens in Chalk Grassland in West Sussex

Sussex Downs Conservation Board and West Sussex County Council

Rose F. (1995) The Habitats and Vegetation of Sussex The Booth Museum of Natural History

Shimwell D.W (1973) An introduction to the geography and ecology of chalk grassland. In:

Jeremy and Stott Chalk Grassland Kent Trust for Nature Conservation

Smith C. J. (1980) Ecology of the English Chalk Academic Press

Smith J. (1996 reprinted 1970) Chalkland Ecology Heinemann

Stevens G. (1992) A Botanical Survey of Unimproved Grassland on the South Downs in

West Sussex English Nature

Stevens G., Muggeridge N. (1992) A Botanical Survey of Unimproved Grassland on the

South Downs in East Sussex English Nature

Sussex Downs Conservation Board (1996) A Management Strategy for the Sussex Downs

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Sussex Downs Conservation Board

Sussex Downs Conservation Board (1996) The Landscape of the Sussex Downs Area of

Outstanding Natural Beauty Countryside Commission and Sussex Downs Conservation Board

Sussex Wildlife Trust (1996) Vision for the Wildlife of Sussex Sussex Wildlife Trust

UK Biodiversity Group (1998) Tranche 2 Action Plans Vol II – Terrestrial and Freshwater

Habitats English Nature

University of Sussex, Geography Editorial Committee (1983) Sussex: Environment,

Landscape and Society Alan Sutton Publishing Limited

Williams R. (ed.) (1993) A Vision for the South Downs Sussex Wildlife Trust

Willing M. (1993) Report on the Molluscs of the West Sussex Chalk Downs Sussex Downs

Conservation Board and West Sussex County Council

Appendix 5 [top]

Partnership and Consultation

The following list gives organisations and contact names for all those consulted on the draft Chalk Grassland Habitat Action Plan:

English Nature Claire Kerr Malcolm Emery *

Environment Agency Mark Elliott

DEFRA Gill Swash * Rosie Davis

Adur District Council Ashley Serpis

Arun District Council Daphne Fisher

Brighton & Hove Council Matthew Thomas *

Chichester District Council Diana Brown/David Nowell

Eastbourne Borough Council Dave Pearce

East Sussex County Council AlexTait*

Horsham District Council Yvonne McDermott

Lewes District Council Steve Brigdon

Mid Sussex District Council Sharon Brown

Wealden District Council David Phillips

West Sussex County Council Ann Griffiths *

Worthing Borough Council Hayley Young

East Hampshire AONB Project Alison Tingley

Sussex Downs Conservation Board Phil Belden *

Angmering Park Estate Trust D. J. Pennell

Applesham Farm Chris Passmore

Duke of Norfolk Estate Peter Knight

Edward James Foundation Simon Ward

Goodwood Estate Nigel Draffan

Wiston Estate Harry Goring

Murray Downland Trust Shirley Wright

National Trust (E.Sussex) Sarah Mann

National Trust (WSussex) Glynn Jones

National Trust (national office) Matthew Oates

South East Water Emma Goddard

Hall Waste

UK Waste

Country Landowners Association John Biron

Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group Paul Ling *

National Farmers Union William White

British Trust for Conservation Volunteers Libby Hodd

Council for the Protection of Rural England Peter Brandon

Keep Our Downs Public Dave Bangs

Game Conservancy Trust Mike Swan

Booth Museum of Natural History John Cooper

University of Brighton Naill Burnside *

University of Sussex David Streeter

University of Hertfordshire Catherine Larman

Bees & Wasps Mike Edwards

British Butterfly Conservation Society Joyce Gay

British Dragonfly Society Phil Belden

Conchological Society of GB Martin Willing

Flora Francis Rose John Shaughnessy

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds Steve Gilbert

Sussex Amphibian & Reptile Group Mark Elliott

Sussex Bat Group M. Love

Sussex Botanical Recording Society Rod Stern

Sussex Mammal Recording Group Neil Mitchell

Sussex Ornithological Society Alan Perry

Sussex Moth Group Simon Curson

Sussex Wildlife Trust Tony Whitbread *

* Members of the Sussex Chalk Grassland Biodiversity Working Group who put together the Habitat Action Plan and who are responsible for the monitoring of the Action Plan.

Chalk Grassland HAP Lead and Working Group

Members of the Sussex Chalk Grassland Habitat Action Plan Working Group who put together the Habitat Action Plan and who are responsible for the monitoring of the Action Plan.

Lead Phil Beldon

Sussex Downs Conservation Board


Tel: 01903 741234

Naill Burnside

Brighton University

Malcom Emery

English Nature

Ann Griffiths

West Sussex County Council

Paul Ling

Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group

Dr Alex Tait

East Sussex County Council

Matthew Thomas

Brighton and Hove Council

Tony Whitbread

Sussex Wildlife Trust

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