Beginning in May 2017, Old Chalk New Downs set out to deliver a new approach to chalk grassland management and restoration, recognising that people needed to engage with their natural environment if they were to be encouraged to protect it. With this in mind, OCND split the project into the three main programmes; managing, learning about and accessing this unique habitat.
In the first 12 months, OCND has made great strides in each of these areas. We have recruited volunteers, made agreements with landowners and funded conservation works. We have run school workshops, family days out and trained people in surveying and brush cutting skills. We have encouraged people to walk and enjoy the landscape with our 'Walk the Chalk' walking festival, and to protect the landscape through our partnership with the Country Eye app - allowing people to easily report vandalism in the countryside.
You can read a full account of what we have achieved in the first year in our 2017/18 Annual Report.
Now several months into our second year, there is lots of work to be done. OCND will continue engaging people with the landscape, through our Downland Protection Initiative, and through outtreach work with the Traveller and Gypsy Community and young offenders. Conservation works will continue, with work due to begin on the Birling Estate early next year, and hopefully more uptake of our Habitat Connectivity grants. 2019 is designated as a Year of Green Action, and Old Chalk New Downs will be working with a variety of partners to deliver opportunities for people to learn about the environment and take action to protect it.