South Downs National Park celebrates 10 years by promising to protect rare animals and plants that could be 'lost forever'

THE South Downs National Park is celebrating its 10th anniversary by promising to protecting rare animals and plants that could be ‘lost forever’ through climate change.

Monday, 30th March 2020, 5:46 pm
Updated Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 1:37 pm

Despite being effectively closed to the wider public because of Covid-19, the guardians of the national park, which covers 1,600km2 of land in Hampshire and Sussex, are continuing their work to protect the area's wildlife and heritage.

Andrew Lee, director of countryside and policy management, said: ‘The national park has some of the rarest animals and plants in Britain and, without our collective efforts to give nature the space and protection to flourish, these natural works of art could be lost forever.

‘Biodiversity loss is global and unprecedented, with climate change only heightening the need for action.

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Lloyd Lane/National Trust/PA Wire

‘We're working really hard to turn the tide on biodiversity loss on a big and small scale, through larger landscape projects and via smaller initiatives for individual species such as the field cricket.’

During its first 10 years, achievements by the park authority, which was established on March 31, 2010, have included restoring 12 species of British amphibian and reptile species and heathland the size of 1,200 football pitches is being improved.

Work has been carried out to restore ecosystems including 35 sites along the River Meon in Hampshire for water voles along with 67 per cent of woodland in the park now under active management.

Chalk grassland is also being protected which has allowed the Duke of Burgundy butterfly to recover from the brink of extinction and the water-biter bush cricket has been successfully reintroduced.

The park authority has also developed a Local Plan and is working with local farmers and businesses to help balance the needs of the nature within the park and those who live and work in it.

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Margaret Paren, chairwoman of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: ‘As we look forward to the next 10 years, there are big challenges ahead, particularly from the pressure of global climate change and threats to biodiversity.’