Sussex Wildlife Trust is calling on Government to save remaining wildlife-rich grasslands and help farmers halt their ‘catastrophic’ decline. A report published today by The Wildlife Trusts tells a story of devastating losses which is of deep concern.
Sussex was once full of wildlife-rich grasslands and for over fifty years Sussex Wildlife Trust has been battling hard to bring back some of this lost wildlife to the county by advising farmers, working with landowners and restoring flourishing grassland on its own nature reserves.
This valuable habitat supports an array of wildlife in Sussex. Grasslands on the South Downs support the rare adonis blue butterfly and have an astonishingly rich variety of plants.
These include special chalk grassland flowers such as orchids and also round-headed rampion, known as the ‘Pride of Sussex’ as its blue flowers are more common on the South Downs than anywhere else in Britain. Flower-rich grasslands are even rarer in the Weald of Sussex but you can still occasionally find old hay meadows covered in oxeye daisy, dyer’s greenweed and betony.
Wildlife-rich grasslands also provide vital natural resources: for bees and other pollinators, and for an abundance of nature that depends on wild grasses and flowers. They also help protect our rivers from pollution, hold together healthy soils that store carbon and enable landscapes to retain water to reduce flooding.
Dr Tony Whitbread, Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Chief Executive says; “Unfortunately wildlife-rich grasslands have been in trouble for decades, but our newly collated information makes for depressing reading. We’re seeing an insidious yet catastrophic decline. The pressures on these vital landscapes are enormous: from development and changes in agricultural practices, to deterioration and simple neglect.
Valuable grasslands are vanishing at an alarming rate and they will not survive without a long-term commitment, secure funding and effective regulation. We’re calling on Government to start working now with farmers, local authorities and nature organisations to ensure wildlife-rich grasslands don’t just fade away.”
The Wildlife Trusts is launching an e-petition to ‘Save our Vanishing Grasslands’ which will be presented to Owen Paterson, Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
To add your signature please visit www.wildlifetrusts.org/
You can also follow the campaign on twitter #dontfadeaway