Changing Chalk

10 October 2019 | Posted in Nature Reserves , Ditchling Beacon
Changing Chalk
Ditchling Beach © Sam Roberts

Changing Chalk partnership wins National Lottery support - to conserve, protect and engage people with the rare chalk grassland and heritage sites of the Sussex Downs

A partnership of 10 organisations has received initial National Lottery support for the Changing Chalk project. Made possible by National Lottery players, the partnership will work with local communities and landowners to connect people with nature and address challenges facing the Sussex Downs to protect this fragile chalk grassland landscape for future generations.

Development funding of £138,300 has been awarded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund  to help the Changing Chalk partnership progress their plans to apply for a full National Lottery grant of £2,234,600 in 2021.

Changing Chalk is focused on the chalk grassland landscape of the Sussex Downs and the communities of the coastal urban fringe of Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne and Lewes. This distinctive landscape has 746,000 people living within the perimeter, it is one of the most densely populated coastal areas in Northern Europe bordering the fragile chalk grassland.
The majority of the 392sq/km2 project area falls within the South Downs National Park, which was designated for the nation in 2009. Chalk grassland and its abundance of wildlife, including an array of rare butterflies, were a key part of the designation.

The landscape and communities are facing multiple threats. On the Downs, the internationally significant chalk grassland is facing rapid decline with only 4% of original habitat remaining. At the same time, there is increasing public recognition of the importance of nature and place as a determinant of individuals’ health and well-being.

This ambitious project will bring together people and nature, over a five year period, to tackle these threats, grasp the opportunities and celebrate the heritage that the area offers. The vision is to reverse the decline in chalk grassland and establish a long-term collaborative management plan, which is sustainable because of the benefits it will provide for people.  

Commenting on the award, Jane Cecil, General Manager for the National Trust’s South Downs Portfolio said: “We’re delighted to have received this support thanks to National Lottery players. The challenges facing beautiful natural and historic places can only be addressed by working together. Working at landscape scale, with a wide range of partners and communities, is our best chance to better understand this ever-changing landscape and find solutions to conserve heritage for future generations.

“Beautiful natural and historic places matter. Our role is to care for them and ensure they look and feel amazing forever, so that they provide the most benefit to the most people.

Next steps
The partnership will use the development funding to apply for a full National Lottery grant in 2021. If successful the project aims to empower communities, share and celebrate how people over generations have shaped the South Downs and inspire people to get involved and connect with their local landscape.”

This would include a Big Dig archaeological project, starting in Eastbourne, which would enable communities to explore and record local history of their Downland settlements. The creation of urban green spaces, an access for all footpath from Brighton to Devils Dyke and new accessible volunteering and participation opportunities would help grow love for the Sussex downs and contribute to improved health and well-being.
Conservation and species reintroduction work would involve local groups in protecting some of the Eastern Downs rarest species. This funding would also enable the building of further relationships with community organisations to engage a wider range of people who might not usually consider the South Downs as relevant to them.  

Carole Mortimer, Natural England’s Lead Advisor on the Changing Chalk bid said; “I’m delighted to hear that this partnership is progressing. The project is a perfect fit with our ambition to make the natural world richer in wildlife and more accessible to people from all walks of life and it is particularly exciting that two of our National Nature Reserves will be integral to this work.”


  • Max Bateman:

    22 Sep 2020 09:45:00

    Good Morning,

    I hope you are doing well and staying safe during these difficult times.

    Concordia is looking to start a new volunteering programme for young people within the local area and would love you to be a part of that.

    What is it?

    Concordia has been lucky enough to run the NCS programme for several years and see 100’s of young people develop and become really interested and committed to local volunteering. The Concordia Community Volunteering project is our aim to connect with you as an organisation and set up a date, whether that’s each month, each week etc, where our young people can volunteer in someway for you.

    Our young people are committed to several different causes and would be so delighted to work with you.

    The numbers will vary on whatever suits your organisation best and I do have dates listed below but these can be changed if needed to suit you 😊

    The dates:

    30th September –
    7th October –
    14th October
    21st October
    28th October
    4th November

    What we need from you?

    If this is something which interests you and you have the available opportunities for our young people,

    1. Please send me an email back with the kind of volunteering available (gardening, tidying, refurbishing, painting, etc.)
    2. How many young people you would be allowed.
    3. If any of the above dates suit you
    4. Once this is confirmed I can send It out to our young people and get this booked in 😊

    I am really hoping you can be part of this opportunity to bring the community and our young people together.

    I hope to hear from you soon,

    All the best and stay safe,

    Kind regards,

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