These maps show what survives of Brighton's ancient chalk grassland "Our most valuable wildlife ecosystem" and a vision for it's restoration at landscape scale.
Chalk Grassland Fragments Shows the surviving fragments of chalk grassland on our Downs after two centuries of destruction. You will see that it is shattered into hundreds of fragments on the hills and valleys sloping south to Brighton and the sea cliffs. Only on the northern scarp slope do long lengths survive.
Chalk Grassland Restoration Proposes a footprint for a restored chalk grassland mantle. You will see that it will be continuous on the highest Downs towards the scarp, and opens into wide strips southwards down the ridges towards the city and cliffs. It avoids many of the southern valleys with better arable land and some parts of the higher Downs where arable tillage has a long history.
BHCC's Downland Assets City Downland holdings include 15 major farms, some smaller farms, and non- agricultural open spaces. Most large farms have three generational rights of succession. They are all on their second or third successions. Some farms are held on limited duration tenancies of around 20 years. Several farms will be re-let shortly.
Individual Farms Brighton Downs farms are often large, and have been since the middle ages at least, partly because of the old pastoral and 'open field' economy. However, large and expanding farm size is a standard feature of modern capitalist farming. Brighton Downs farmers additionally often have other rented or owned land.
Game Bird Sites Two Brighton Downland Estate farms retain and actively use shooting rights and manage for game bird slaughter - Waterhall and Standean Farms. The map layers show that farms managed for game bird shooting contain both nationally and locally designated wildlife sites, or abut or closely neighbour such sites.
Sites with Protective Designations The major reason for high nature value protective designations on our Downs is to conserve its chalk grassland resource. Protective designation on the Brighton Downs, especially within our City boundaries, has been generous and inclusive. However, protective designation within Lewes District Council's Downland boundaries has missed many high value sites.
Chalk grassland is Brighton's most valuable semi-natural ecosystem. Its flowery turf can bear more than fifty species of flowering plant in a square metre; as well as mosses, fungi and lichen, countless bees, butterflies, grasshoppers, crickets and other tiny beasties. It will give us back our lost Landscape of Freedom, which in these times of fear and loneliness, poverty and pain, make the healing embrace of nature more of a necessity than ever before.
This vision of a restored mantle of flowery, grazed Down pasture makes sense for wildlife, sense for sustainable agriculture and sense for our needs as collective owners and users of our public Downs.
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Get more details about each area by clicking on a shape.
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