Lottery boost for South Downs heathland

PLANS to restore and reunite areas of rare heathland in the South Downs National Park (NPA) have been given a £48,300 Heritage Lottery Fund boost.

The five-year project will improve the quality and size of heathlands and create wildlife corridors and ‘stepping stones’, allowing animals to move between them. The project will cover a large area between Woolmer Forest near Liss, and Wiggonholt Common in the east, and from Black Down near Haslemere down to Midhurst Common.

South Downs heaths are not only home to rare plants and animals – such as the sand lizard, woodlark and silver-studded blue butterfly – they are also used by communities for recreation. But they are mostly separated into ‘islands’ where isolated plants and animals are far more vulnerable to extinction.

Judy Rous, chairman of the Lynchmere Society, whose land is an important link in the project, said: “We have benefited in the past from a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund which enabled the society to buy the Commons and fund the start of heathland restoration which is already showing great results, and thanks to our wonderful volunteers, gets better and better 
each year.

“Taking responsibility for the stewardship of our local heathland and common land sites has helped to generate community involvement, new skills, local products and a sense of enthusiasm and appreciation for the history and environment of the area.”

Chairman of the South Downs National Park Authority, Margaret Paren said: “Our heathlands are under threat and would disappear completely if they weren’t actively managed.”