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Making Space for Nature on the Marlborough Downs
Our priorities for the Marlborough Downs

We promote widespread best practice in wildlife management by sharing knowledge, experience, successes and mistakes, and offer training where it's needed. We monitor our activities and report results using local and national mechanisms. We want the Downs to be recognised as a 'Centre of Excellence' for wildlife management and our efforts to date have been so successful that Natural England has adopted the concept of farmer led collaborative landscape-scale conservation and now offers funding for such projects through the Countryside Stewardship Scheme Facilitation Fund. Once considered rather radical, our unique approach is now mainsteam!

Wildlife habitat - jewels on the Downs

Back when we started in 2012 there were 28 Wildlife Sites on the Downs, which came as a bit of a revelation at the time - we knew about some, but not all. Since then we've identified another eight and are working to make sure that all sites are managed positively and appropriately. We've invested in necessary infrastructure, and buffered and extended sites where needed.

Downland species - flora and fauna

We've noticed how our bee and butterfly numbers have declined and want to restore the downland species of national and local importance by providing nectar-rich habitat across the landscape. Alongside this, we'll create nesting and feeding habitat for farmland birds such as tree sparrow, corn bunting, yellowhammer and linnet,, and set aside areas for arable plants.

Connectivity - a joined up landscape

Water is a scarce commodity on the Downs and acts as a magnet for wildlife. We have created a necklace of traditional dewponds, strung on a ribbon of wildflower-rich habitat. This will also re-connect the chalk grassland resource by providing corridors between wildlife sites. 86% of the project area is now within a mile of a reliable water source, compared to only 64% when we started.

Everyone is welcome!

We are keen to enthuse people about the countryside and share our passion for the Downs, and offer a full and varied programme of eventsactivities, workshops and work parties. We have worked hard to promote better public access and provide local information so everyone can learn something about the landscape while getting the added benefit of fresh air and exercise.

Our ambitions for a landscape-scale partnership

We believe we live and work in a very special area and see this project as an opportunity to take action at a landscape scale to make it even an even better place for wildlife, local communities and visitors.


Our strategic aims are to:

  • Achieve an increase (or at least no further decline) in the extent of priority habitat on our farms

  • Facilitate greater understanding and appreciation of designated wildlife sites leading to them becoming more valued and better managed

  • Create better structural connectivity between wildlife sites which in the longer term will be reflected by increased functional connectivity

  • Enable species to move across the wider landscape to colonise and re-colonise non-contiguous sites more easily and thus mitigate against environmental pressures such as point source pollution incidents, damage due to use of adjacent land, climate change, etc.

  • Support larger, more widely dispersed populations of species, both those associated with particular habitats/sites and those that utilise the landscape more widely

  • Maintain or improve water quality in the River Kennet catchment area

  • Stimulate a mutual learning environment which will lead to successful relationships between those that advise on and those that deliver land management

  • Gain efficiencies from joint procurement of goods/services

  • Disseminate our experience of best practice across the Downs and to a wider audience - Marlborough Downs as a 'Centre of Excellence' for wildlife management

  • Engender greater understanding and appreciation of the special nature of the Marlborough Downs and our downland heritage - history, landscape, wildlife, culture

  • Facilitate improved partnership working, particularly to meet local recreation, education and rural business aspirations

  • Offer high quality access to the countryside and countryside activities leading to better physical and mental health

  • Provide opportunities for local businesses to develop green credentials

  • Gain public support for the countryside in times of changing Government policies

  • Get more people visiting the countryside in areas where there would be no detriment to sensitive ecological or archaeological locations

  • Increase income from tourism across the area

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