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Downlands Partnership – news and environmental education

Chalk grassland restoration given a helping hand thanks to Surrey Hills Trust Fund

2017 got off to a great start with important conservation work being completed at Quarry Hangers, a Site of Special Scientific interest (SSSI) in the east of the Surrey Hills at Chaldon, near Caterham. Extensive targeted scrub clearance was carried out to improve the landscape and restore the rare and precious chalk grassland, typical of the North Downs.

Chalk grassland is a very diverse habitat where you can find as many as 50 different kinds of plants and wildflowers within a square metre. Common species that are typical of chalk grassland and can be spotted at Quarry Hangers SSSI include bird’s-foot trefoil, common spotted orchid, wild marjoram, salad burnet and wild strawberry. Butterflies such as the common blue, orange tip and dingy skipper can also be seen here. Quarry Hangers SSSI also supports a good number of bird species; listen out for the distinctive song of the skylark.

Active management is essential to maintaining chalk grassland; Quarry Hangers SSSI is managed by the Downlands Partnership on behalf of the landowner, through practical conservation work and grazing with goats.

The targeted area cleared through the grant funding is on a very steep gradient, unsuitable for working with volunteers, and desperately needed intensive clearance to give the fragile beautiful landscape a fighting chance. Specialist countryside contractors South East Tree Surgeons were commissioned by the Downlands Partnership to carry out the work and the landscape has been successfully opened so the flora and fauna can thrive.

Debbie Hescott, Surrey Countryside Partnerships Business Development Officer comments “being able to further restore this beautiful chalk grassland gem thanks to this essential funding has been an excellent result. We are looking forward to monitoring how the habitat improves now the invasive scrub has been cleared; for wildlife and for people to enjoy now and in the future”.

All this has been made possible by a grant from the Surrey Hills Trust Fund, a fund within the Community Foundation for Surrey which helps to conserve and maintain the fragile environment of the Surrey Hills by awarding grants to support a wide-range of local projects from landscape conservation to community enterprise schemes.  A match funding contribution was also made by the Downlands Trust, the registered charity partner of the Downlands Partnership.

Wendy Varcoe, Executive Director of the Community Foundation for Surrey comments; “Through generous giving by local people, we are able to support another wonderful project that will help preserve and enhance the stunning landscape. We are delighted to continue our work in partnership with the Surrey Hills AONB to encourage local philanthropic giving and help communities from across the county to access and enjoy the Surrey Hills for generations to come.”


Sanderstead to Whyteleafe Countryside Area (SWCA) environmental education and family fun

Downlands Partnership Officer Sarah Clifford works extensively with local schools, scout/cub groups and conservation volunteers of all ages to pro-actively restore and manage the beautiful chalk downland landscape that comprises the Sanderstead to Whyteleafe Countryside Area (SWCA).

Sarah runs practical conservation volunteering task days at the SWCA on Mondays and one Sunday per month throughout the year, in addition to the Downlands Partnership's scheduled weekly volunteering task programme. Find out more and how to get involved by calling Sarah direct on 07771 715812. Please also see the leaflet attached below for general SWCA information.

Sarah also provides many special, fun and informative family environmental events throughout the year. New autumn dates will be uploaded shortly.

Downlands Trust charity - supporting Downlands Partnership and our local beautiful countryside

The Downlands Trust is a registered charity, run by a small group of dedicated volunteers. The Trust directly helps to support the work of the Downlands Partnership by raising essential funds through memberships and fundraising initiatives.

The Trust, working directly with the Partnership, has already successfully secured funding from Veolia Environmental Trust and the Gannett Foundation. It has also provided essential match funding towards the Partnership's successful SITA Trust grants, previously received for the restoration and creation of various ponds in the Partnership area and for Small Blue Butterfly habitat improvement works.

Lots of essential tools and equipment have been kindly purchased for the Downlands Partnership's practical conservation work. Recently contributions have been made towards the purchase of new livestock and shearing equipment to support the delivery of the conservation grazing programme and gloves for summer school/scout groups.

For the Trust to be a continued success it needs a strong core membership. The Trust currently has over 150 memberships but more would be very welcome. Please see the Downlands Trust membership form on their website. If you would prefer to make a one off donation there is of course this option as well.

The Trust is pleased to welcome legacy donations, so if this is something you would like to consider to support the management of your local countryside for the continued enjoyment of future generations, please kindly contact the trustees direct via their website or email: downlandstrust@live.co.uk to further discuss. Many thanks for your support.

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