Beelines

Support our pollinators

Bee Lines

The iconic chalk grassland of the South Downs attracts a multitude of bees and butterflies with its array of stunning wildflowers. However, with a continuing deterioration in chalk grassland these key pollinating species are on the decline and in need of our support.

Originally extensive, Chalk Grassland now covers just 4% of the South Downs

Although originally  extensive, chalk grassland now covers just 5,608ha of the National Park (4% of its total area). During World War Two many of the chalk grassland sites in the South Downs were ploughed up and have remained under cultivation. More recent intensification of farming methods has contributed to the fragmentation of this important habitat making it harder for key pollinator species like bees and the Adonis blue butterfly to thrive and move around our countryside.

This is bad news for everyone as pollinators are not only an important part of the food chain, they are vital to grow most of the food we eat. But all is not lost…

Launching in April 2019 we will be working with farmers and partners within the Arun to Adur area, to create wildflower corridors across downland linking species rich chalk grassland to sites which are in need of pollination.

Simply sowing commercially sourced wildflower seeds is sadly not enough as often these mixes do not provide pollinators with the rich and long lasting food which they rely on. This project, Bee Lines, will therefore also look to develop a selection of native and locally sourced flowering plant seeds. This will provide pollen and nectar sources right across the flowering season, to support pollinators as they emerge throughout the year.

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Types of activities this campaign will support:

Working with volunteers and farmers we will return areas of the downs which have been farmed, or used for other means, back to chalk grassland

Chalk grassland of the South Downs was created by the clearance of woods and then grazing by sheep and cattle. As farming methods have changed this practice has decreased and conservation grazing programmes are required to conserve and maintain chalk grassland.

Cut grass from the mowing of road verges is usually left on the verge to breakdown naturally. However, this practise increases the soil’s nutrition which enables course grasses to dominate over the wildflowers and fine grasses which are characteristic of chalk grassland and are better for biodiversity, in particular, bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

By changing the way that we manage road verges and taking cut grass away from the site, we can create wildlife corridors for pollinators along the roads which make up our transport networks.

Working with organisations across the downs we will look to provide more connectivity by creating wildflower areas within Schools and Care Farms, providing important stops for Pollinators as they move between sites.

Working with organisations across the downs we will look to provide more connectivity by creating wildflower areas within Schools and Care Farms, providing important stops for Pollinators as they move between sites.

Working with farmers to expand on the work already being done to improve pollinator connectivity on farms, we will plant areas of wildflowers across farms and look at ways to change existing farming operations to be more pollinator friendly. Thereby further improving the network of corridors that allow pollinators to move across the countryside.