We run a program of talks and other events open to the public which complement our objective of preserving and protecting the South Downs National Park. Our aim is to update our members and supporters of our campaigns and activities.
Our Next Event
On-line talk by Sir Charlie Raymond Burrell, the Knepp Castle Estate Wilding Project
The Friends of the South Downs are delighted to invite you to take part in this Zoom Online Talk on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 7:30 pm with Sir Charlie Raymond Burrell talking about the Knepp Castle Estate Wilding project
Sir Charlie Raymond Burrell, 10th Baronet (born 27 August 1962), studied Higher National Diploma in Agriculture and Advanced Farm Management at Cirencester Royal Agricultural College. He inherited Knepp Castle Estate in West Sussex from his grandparents in 1983 in his early twenties. Despite intensifying the Estate’s arable and dairy business for seventeen years, farming on the heavy Sussex clay remained unprofitable. His damascene conversion to rewilding began after meeting the visionary Dutch ecologist Frans Vera.
All 3,200 acres of the Knepp Estate are now devoted to a process-led rewilding project involving free-roaming herds of cattle, horses, pigs and deer as drivers of habitat creation. Since 2001, when it began, numerous Red Data species have colonised Knepp and populations of common species are rocketing. Knepp Wildland is now a breeding hotspot for nightingales and turtle doves, (the most likely species to go extinct in the UK by 2020) and has the largest breeding colony of purple emperor butterflies in the UK. The grazing animals provide 35 tons of organic, pasture-fed meat per annum – a lucrative, low-carbon source of income for the Estate – and wildlife tourism, including African-style safaris, is another key part of the business.
Knepp Wildland’s Advisory Board comprises 22 eminent ecologists and conservationists, including John Lawton and Frans Vera.
The success of this open-ended, low-cost, landscape-scale restoration project, where natural processes are allowed to perform, is now influencing thinking across the conservation world.
In 2015, Knepp Wildland received a People Environment Achievement (PEA) award for Nature and, in 2017, the Anders Wall award for special contribution to the rural environment within the European Union.
As a thank you to Charlie for giving us his time, we will be donating £3 of the attendance cost to the Knepp Wildland Foundation.
Please note that full details on how to join the meeting will be emailed to you about a week before the event.
On-line talk by Stephanie West, the UK Biodiversity Training Manager at the Natural History Museum
The Friends of the South Downs held the first in a series of on-line talks, given by Stephanie West, UK Biodiversity Training Manager at the Natural History Museum. Steph knows the South Downs well and shared both her love of the special landscape and her knowledge of the varied plant and animal life in the area.
Steph spoke about the natural history of the Downs, focussing on the contribution of the naturalist Gilbert White and his exploration of the flora and fauna of the Downs 300 years ago. White’s work contributed to the study of natural history as a whole and has enriched our understanding of how the Downs have changed over time. While White is best known for his study of the wildlife around his home in Selborne, Steph’s talk also followed his journeys across the Downs to his Aunt’s home in Ringmer.
This talk will inspire all age groups and you can now watch it below.