Wiltshire Chalk Country
Wiltshire Chalk Country
This landscape has been shaped by farming, ancient civilisations and military training. It is dotted with Stone Age barrows offering panoramic views. At its heart lies Stonehenge, the internationally renowned World Heritage Site.
Covered with rolling fields of corn and expanses of chalk grassland, this is a land of hares, lapwings and the rare stone-curlew. The downland comes alive in summer, when skylarks sing, flowers bloom and butterflies emerge.
We’re working with partners, land owners and communities to protect and enhance the landscape. Together we’re ensuring there’s a network of chalk grassland sites which people can enjoy and which support the iconic wildlife and the archaeological heritage of the Chalk Country.
Reserves and other protected areas are a key part of Futurescapes. They provide core areas for nature to thrive and eventually repopulate the surrounding landscapes. The key RSPB reserves within this Futurescape are:
At Winterbourne Downs we're recreating species-rich chalk grassland. The reserve will form an important link between the extensive grasslands of Salisbury Plain and Porton Down. Wander through the grassland in summer and you will be greeted by the wealth of colourful flowers and the gentle buzz of insects.
Our other sites
In addition to Winterbourne Downs we also manage two other sites in Wiltshire Chalk Country: Suddern Hill on the fringes of Porton Down and Normanton Down, within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. These sites have no public access as they are on MOD or private land holdings. However guided tours of Normanton Down are run each year. Please get in touch for more information.
We're working to safeguard and improve special places for nature. Each Futurescape contains a range of initiatives in addition to our reserves. The combination of these creates better conditions for wildlife across the countryside.
The stone-curlew is one of the rarest birds in the UK. An 85% decline in both range and numbers from the 1930s left the population at around 150 pairs in the 1980s. These were concentrated in two core areas – Wessex and the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecklands. Conservation efforts have resulted in the population increasing to nearly 400 pairs by 2011.
The North Wessex Downs are an important area for farmland birds, holding key populations of nationally declining species. They're also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, part of the South West Farmland Bird Initiative, our Chalk Country Futurescape and the Stone-curlew Recovery Project Area. This project works closely with farmers and advisors, providing advice and support to enable habitat creation and management to support the conservation of our top ten declining farmland birds.
Henry narrowly beat the three other fantastic finalists with his organic farm in Wiltshire which hosts an array of rare birds, bumblebees, moths and butterflies.
Futurescapes is all about collaboration. There are many organisations and people involved in managing land in Wiltshire Chalk Country. Our challenge is working together to find ways of making more space for nature. To achieve this we’re working with:
- Butterfly Conservation
- Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB
- Defence Estates
- Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
- English Heritage
- Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
- Great Bustard Group
- National Trust
- Natural England
- North Wessex Downs AONB
- Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
- Wessex Water
- Wiltshire Council
- Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
Saving special places
Victory for Harapan Rainforest
Beautiful Hutan Harapan forest is a precious remnant of the rainforest that once covered much of Sumatra (Photo: RSPB-images/Steve Roland) Hutan Harapan is one of the last remaining areas of dry lowland Sumatran forest and is among the most th...(r...Posted 12/04/2019 by Heather Mitchell
Rila Mountains: The Final Piece in Bulgaria's Protected Area Network for Birds
Daniel Pullan, our International Casework Manager writes: I was thrilled last week when my Bulgarian colleague Irina Mateeva told me that the Bulgarian Government had designated the last part of the Rila Mountains as a Special Protection Area. This a...Posted 04/04/2019 by Heather Mitchell
A net gain for nature
How can built development leave the natural environment in a better shape than it was before? This is the question at the heart of Defra’s recent consultation on ‘biodiversity net gain’. We know from the State of Nature 2016 report ...(read more)Posted 01/03/2019 by Simon Marsh
What will the new NPPF mean for places, people and nature?
On Tuesday the Government published a new National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) for England. You can see our previous commentary on the draft version here , here and here . The NPPF sets out the Government’s planning policies for England...(read ...Posted 27/07/2018 by Steph