MP celebrates new Nature Improvement Area
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert joined local conservationists at Devil's Dyke, above Brighton, last week (25 May) to celebrate the Government's announcement that 'South Downs Way Ahead' has been chosen as one of twelve new Nature Improvement Areas in England.
Each of the twelve areas will get a share of £7.5 million to create wildlife havens, restore habitats and encourage local people to get involved with nature.
Led by the South Downs National Park Authority, 28 organisations are sharing £608,000 of this sum to implement 'South Downs Way Ahead'.
The scheme will include projects such as landowners, farmers and water companies working together to improve water quality, and the restoration of chalk downland for endangered species such as the rare Duke of Burgundy butterfly and farmland birds such as corn bunting, lapwing, grey partridge and stone curlew.
Mr Herbert met with Tony Whitbread, Chief Executive of Sussex Wildlife Trust, Margaret Paren, Chair of the National Park Authority and Dave Burgess, RSPB Conservation Officer for the South East at the top of the South Downs to hear about the project and celebrate the announcement.
Following the visit, Mr Herbert commented: "This is wonderful news for the South Downs. We need to find ways to recognise the true value of the natural world and ensure the means to sustain important eco-systems. The South Downs aren't just beautiful to look at - our relationship with them through things like the water which they harbour is actually critical.
"Thanks to the Government's support for these new Nature Improvement Areas, and the active engagement of all the local partner organisations in 'South Downs Way Ahead', the work to enhance this very special landscape and its wildlife will be strengthened."
Tony Whitbread, Chief Executive of the Sussex Wildlife Trust, added: "Nature Improvement Areas were one of the good commitments that came out of the Natural Environment White Paper published last year, the aim being to enhance and reconnect nature on a landscape scale.
"Our chalk downland is vital for the survival of some of our most cherished wildlife - such as the orchid-rich downland turf and uncommon butterflies such as the Duke of Burgundy fritillary. As nature conservationists we would like to enhance, expand and join up this valuable habitat. This would be to the benefit of downland wildlife but in the process could improve the Downs in terms of the benefits people get."
Notes for Editors
1. More information about the Nature Improvement Area can be found at the SDNPA website http://www.southdowns.gov.uk/about-us/news/3-million-project-wins-government-backing-to-save-precious-south-downs-chalk-downland and from Defra at http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2012/02/27/nature_improvement_area/.
2. To find out more about Sussex Wildlife Trust's response to the NIA for the South Downs please read Tony Whitbread's blog: http://www.sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/blog/2012/02/a-nature-improvement-area-for-the-south-downs/.