South Downs farmland bird initiative

The open rolling hills, light soils and mixed farming of the South Downs make it a great place for all kinds of wildlife.

Corn bunting Miliaria calandra, sitting on a branch


The South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative was launched to co-ordinate all of the good conservation work which farmers are doing across the downs, and to provide a one-stop shop for advice and information.

Farmland birds such as corn bunting, grey partridge and lapwing can be found in good numbers here and rare arable plants thrive in the light chalky soils. Fragments of chalk grassland support many butterflies such as the adonis blue, while brown hares are frequently seen in stubble fields and the resulting spring crops.

By linking up this work on a landscape scale and monitoring the results, together we can ensure a bright future for farmland wildlife on the South Downs.


  • A one-stop shop for advice and information on managing land for farmland birds.
  • Disseminate best practice through farm walks and the South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative website and newsletter.
  • Provide free face-to-face farm advisory visits to discuss specific issues on farms.
  • Monitor the success of habitat management.


  • Jan/Feb 2014 - three launch presentations given in the eastern, central and western Downs.
  • March 2014 - first South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative newsletter published.
  • April 2014 - South Downs-wide farmland bird monitoring survey began.
  • May 2014 - South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative went live.

Planned Work

Continuing to co-ordinate farm advisory activity, looking at the possibilities of the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) across the South Downs.


The South Downs Farmland Bird Initiative is a partnership project between:


Coast on a stormy day

Bruce Fowkes

Conservation Adviser, RSPB
Tagged with: Habitat: Farmland Habitat: Grassland Species: Corn bunting Species: Grey partridge Species: Lapwing Species: Linnet Species: Skylark Species: Turtle dove Species: Yellowhammer Project status: Ongoing Project types: Advocacy Project types: Species protection