Funding to safeguard future of Western Weald heathland

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THREE years of funding have been secured for a project to help reverse the serious decline of important heathland in the Western Weald.

The project has been launched by the South Downs National Park Authority with eleven organisations, including the RSPB and the Forestry Commission, joining forces to reverse the decline.

The new South Downs Heathland Partnership will reconnect parts of heathland, which have become separated.

The aim is to restore heathland habitats within the national park, and also to enhance their contribution to cultural heritage, access and education.

“The South Downs National Park Authority is committed to working closely with communities and partner organisations. I am very excited at the potential of this partnership to strengthen management of the heathland that is such a wonderful feature of the Western Weald part of South Downs National Park,” said national park chairman Margaret Paren.

Peter Hughes, warden at RSPB’s Pulborough Brooks nature reserve, said: “Here at Pulborough, we are restoring 30 hectares of lost heathland for the benefit of nightjars, woodlarks, field crickets and many other vulnerable species.

“We look forward to working more closely with the partners to improve the landscape, and ensure the national park becomes a leading example of how to enrich wildlife and the lives of people by connecting them with nature.”

The SDNPA has agreed to provide funding for a Heathland Partnership Manager starting this summer, for a period of three years. The primary role of the manager will be to work with partners and other parties to gather information about heathlands in the South Downs, and then secure substantial additional resources.