Changing Chalk

Wilmington Chalk Downs © BareFoot Photographer

Changing Chalk is an exciting 4 year partnership project focusing on the chalk grassland landscape of the South Downs, Sussex and the communities of the coastal fringe between Brighton and Hove, Eastbourne and Lewes.  Buglife is leading on three projects within the partnership, to address the challenges in protecting and enhancing this fragile chalk grassland for future generations; connecting people with nature.

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Quick Facts:

  • Name of Project:  Changing Chalk ~ Landscapes for Wild Pollinators, Sustainable Vines & a species recovery programme for the Wart-biter Bush-cricket (Decticus verrucivorus)
  • Duration of Project: April 2022 – March 2026
  • Location of Project: The Changing Chalk partnership is focused on a 458 square km area, at the eastern end of the South Downs East Sussex much of which falls within the South Downs National Park.
  • Species benefiting from Project:  Wart-biter Bush Cricket (Decticus verrucivorus), Large Scabious Mining Bee (Andrena hattorfiana), Small Scabious Mining Bee (Andrena marginata), “blue butterflies” and Hornet Robberfly (Asilus crabroniformis)
  • Project funded by:  National Lottery Heritage Fund, some match funding is still required

What will the project do?

Changing Chalk is a partnership project involving 10 core partners: National Trust (overall project lead), Brighton & Hove City Council, Brighton & Hove Food Partnership, Buglife, Lewes and Eastbourne Councils, Natural England, Railway Land Wildlife Trust, South Downs National Park Authority, Sussex Wildlife Trust and The Living Coast Biosphere.

The Changing Chalk partnership is focused on a 458 square km area, at the eastern end of the South Downs much of which falls within the South Downs National Park; beyond the park boundaries, and neighbouring the Downs are the communities of the coastal fringe between Brighton & Hove, Lewes and Eastbourne.

Buglife is delivering three distinct but intertwined projects as part of Changing Chalk.

Landscapes for Wild Pollinators

This project is exploring ways to improve the chalk landscape for our declining insect pollinators; providing information and advice on how to manage wildflower habitats in B-Lines with landowners, land managers and community groups. The project plans to link the best remaining habitats together through new or restored wildflower stepping stones, so pollinators can move freely across the South Downs area.

The Buglife Team will be offering workshops, habitat assessments, advice and support to landowners and farmers as well as working with the community and sharing information about our wild pollinators, through workshop, training in pollinator ID, assessing habitats for pollinators, FIT counts and much more!

Sussex Chalk Downs © BareFoot Photographer

Sustainable Vines

This project will work with the growing vineyard industry in the Changing Chalk project area, looking to work with vineyard owners and managers to see how they can help our wild insect pollinators.  Exciting wildflower seed trials will be carried out at two vineyards, alongside engagement work with students studying wine and vineyard management.

Wart-biter Bush-cricket – species recovery

The final Buglife led project is a species recovery programme for the stunning Wart-biter bush-cricket.  Known from just six sites in the UK, four of which are within the Changing Chalk project area, we will be re-surveying sites, looking at the potential for re-introductions and working with volunteers to create a long-term monitoring programme to safeguard the future of the species.

Take a look at our video below to find out more about the Wart-biter Bush-cricket.

Wart-biter Bush-cricket (Decticus verrucivorus)

How can you get involved?

Communities can get involved through a series of opportunities including volunteering, taking part in workshops and training, assisting with surveying and monitoring of habitats and species.

Information, advice and support is also available to landowners who would like to know more about the project, how they can be involved and how to improve their land for pollinators and other invertebrate species.

We will be seeking volunteers to:

  • help with general monitoring of pollinators
  • map scabious plants within the project area and then looking for the Large Scabious Mining Bee
  • assist with monitoring of Wart-biter Bush-cricket populations and
  • continue the good work of creating and restoring habitats for pollinators.

For more information on how to get involved in our “Changing Chalk” projects please get in touch with Conservation Officer Alice Parfitt via email [email protected]

Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund
Natural Trust Led by the National Trust

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