It is in an area which will cover almost 10,000 hectares along the Downs from Kemsing, through Cobham to Detling.
Much of this precious, heritage landscape has been lost or become fragmented, making it difficult for its rare species, many found only within the North Downs, to spread and survive. Many people have lost connection with the Great Outdoors and nature, which has led to ill health and what is often called a “nature deficit syndrome”.
The Old Chalk New Downs project looks to address these issues through work to improve, restore, and reconnect threatened chalk grassland habitats, while addressing the loss of people’s connection with their natural environment and lack of knowledge and understanding of the value of their heritage through a variety of schemes.
Capital works and land management support for landowners will be complemented by a host of community engagement activities which will include volunteering opportunities, learning and skills development, surveying and monitoring, public access improvements, a programme for schools, and digital and interactive resources.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded our project a £1.4m grant to focus on the revival of chalk grassland and the knowledge and skills required to protect it for future generations. Over 4 years this money will be spent on Downs landscape management and connectivity of this rare habitat, public access improvement and protection from anti-social behaviour and education of those who wish to learn about and help care for this heritage landscape and the species who live on it. The project will cover almost 10,000 hectares from Kemsing Down north to Cobham and across to Detling Hill involving landowners, partnership organisations, community groups, schools and many volunteers.
“Chalk grassland is the European equivalent to tropical rain forest”
Professor David Bellamy
(on a visit to Kent in 1994)