Rare sheep to graze former landfill site at Beddingham

Sussex Wildlife Trust’s flock of traditional and rare breed sheep are grazing Beddingham’s former landfill site, helping to re-establish vibrant chalk downland alive with wildlife.

Originally Asham Quarry, Viridor’s former site was closed in 2009, capped with chalk and grassed over. By introducing the Trust’s sheep onto the site in early June, the flock can target coarser grasses, bushes and prevent scrub from developing.

This traditional method of grazing, used for centuries on the South Downs, leads to a flourishing chalk grassland rich in a huge range of specialised plants and insects.

Sussex Wildlife Trust’s flock of mostly traditional breeds, including Herdwick, Shetland, Hebridean and Wiltshire Horn sheep, have been grazing the Trust’s neighbouring nature reserves at Malling Down and Southerham to maintain wildlife-rich chalk grassland.

Community Wildlife Officer Michael Blencowe, who is based in Lewes, said: “The Beddingham site is a fantastic opportunity to restore an area of chalk downland and provide a habitat where wildlife thrives.

“Not only will grazing allow chalk grassland flowers and grasses to flourish, it encourages birds such as skylark and butterflies including silver-spotted skipper and the rare adonis blue.

“This exciting restoration project also provides a vital green corridor, allowing wildlife to move more freely, creating a well-connected landscape that links up Beddingham, the Firle Escarpment, Mount Caburn and our nature reserves at Southerham and Malling Down.”