Supporting our Pollinators - Working with landowners across the South Downs, our Beelines initiative is planting new wildflower corridors to connect pockets of species-rich chalk grassland.
Pollinators like bees and butterflies play a crucial role in helping ReNature the South Downs, ensuring we have a good diversity of plant species across the landscape.
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.
Beelines is also developing 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.
Why we need to help pollinators?
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. Although originally extensive, chalk grassland now covers just 5,608ha of the National Park (4% of its total area).
During World War II 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 help grow most of the food we eat. But all is not lost…
With specialist advice from the conservation charity PlantLife, we are working with land owners and other partners to create wildflower corridors across downland, linking species rich chalk grassland to sites which are in need of pollination.
The story so far…
Beelines grants have funded the creation of new wildflower meadow, wildflower areas in schools, ‘bee banks’ as well as pollinator friendly boundaries and restoration of chalk grassland habitat across farmland.
Already we’re seeing some fantastic results, such as the transformation at:
- Sompting Wildflower Meadow, near Worthing
- Sussex Meadow
- Lewes Cemetery