• Eastern South Downs Farmer Cluster

      The Eastern South Downs Farmer Cluster is currently made up of 30 holdings spread between the Adur and Eastbourne although it is expected that more will join as the project evolves.  Further details and updates can be found on the groups Facebook page.

      It is focussed on the following priorities:

      HABITATS - All 8 priority habitats (except Lowland Dry Acid Grassland) occur in the area. Maintenance of these is a high priority as is restoration for calcareous grassland and flood plain grazing marsh. Reducing fragmentation by creating links and connecting management across holdings. This has benefits for water and air quality and flooding. It will build on the legacy of the South Downs Way Ahead NIA. Chalk grassland habitat management is beneficial for butterflies including chalkhill blues and duke of burgundy.

      Facilitating links between SSSI owners, managers and neighbours to improve site management and buffering.

      SPECIES - The area is a hotspot for corn bunting, lapwing, grey partridge, linnet, skylark and yellowhammer. It also hosts rare and range restricted birds including stone-curlew. The group will aim to boost farmland bird numbers by coordinating the 'Big 3' at a landscape scale. Birds don't recognise farm boundaries, so working at this scale provides better connectivity and resilience. The project will further help these and other species by encouraging uptake of The Wild Pollinator and Farm Wildlife Package as part of CSS. Using the package as a framework to guide the amendment of existing schemes where appropriate. The package will also be used at a landscape scale to complement Ecological Focus Areas.

      WATER - Demonstrating the viability and benefits of an input based approach to the improvement of groundwater quality. Addressing nitrate in groundwater, sediment and pesticide use and disposal. Working with Sussex Flow Initiative to raise the awareness of how good soil management, including tillage techniques and management of organic matter can help alleviate flooding and help members deploy Natural Flood Management in a collaborative way.

      HISTORIC ENVIRONMENT - Build on the local COSMIC work to inform current and future arable cultivation and habitat management e.g. scrub control on features such as Bronze Age field systems.