The project at South Downs National Park is helping bees recover

THE South Downs has become a beehive of wildlife havens thanks to an ‘inspiring’ nature project.

Bee Lines continues to go from strength to strength, with the South Downs National Park Trust awarding 11 grants in recent months to create new wildflower havens on farms, community fields, recreation areas and roadsides.

Eight projects were funded last year and have now developed into areas where bees and butterflies can thrive.

Early reports indicate that biodiversity has increased significantly in the new wildflower fields.

Bee Lines was launched three years ago to create a new network of wildflower corridors to support bees and other pollinators.

The insects have been in sharp decline across the UK for decades and are now threatened by climate change.

The Trust said the new planting will create a “road system” for pollinating insects, allowing them to move more easily through the landscape.

Projects included converting a field at Sompting into a wildflower meadow.

The Argus: Sleeping Meadow before and afterCalming meadow before and after

Meanwhile, wildflower corridors have been laid out at Sussex Meadow, a farm and holiday rental business near Petworth.

Lewes Cemetery has also been transformed thanks to the planting of wildflowers, with a recent survey finding a total of 55 different species of wildflowers on the site.

Peter King, Director of the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust said: “Funding from the South Downs National Park Trust has enabled us to create 2.5 hectares of wildflower meadows at Sompting Brooks.

“Since seeding, the field has seen exceptional growth and biodiversity.”

Mr King said the Trust has seen a 72 per cent increase in pollinator species using the site since arable fields were converted back to meadows.

The Argus: Bees bounce back in the areaBees jump back into the area

It has also seen a 98 percent increase in biodiversity of monitored species, including birds, bats, reptiles, invertebrates and small mammals.

Chris Bibb, who works at Lewes District Council as a Green Projects Advisor, said: “The seeding and planting of wildflowers has been a huge success and the variety of flowers has been popular with visitors to the cemetery, as well as butterflies, moths, bees and beetles as well .”

Although the £75,000 target has now been met thanks to community funding, the Trust continues to seek donations to support other wildflower projects.

The Argus: red-tailed bumblebee on kidney vetch Image - Tim Squire, ranger at South Downs National ParkRed-tailed bumblebee on kidney vetch Picture – Tim Squire, ranger at South Downs National Park

Nick Heasman, who directs Bee Lines for the national park, said: “It’s wonderful to see that this wildflower planting is making a significant difference to biodiversity, and that effect can only multiply in the years to come as the habitat becomes established. Bees are important ecosystem engineers and it is so important that we try to halt and reverse their decline.

“This is nature restoration in action and a key strand of our overarching ReNature project to create new wildlife habitats in the national park.”

Anyone interested in future rounds of funding from Bee Lines should contact Miriam Swan at The project at South Downs National Park is helping bees recover

Fry Electronics Team

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