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LEWES AND OUSE VALLEY
Living Landscape project

Did you know?

The breed of sheep used to graze our reserves in Lewes are Herdwicks. They are a hardy variety of hill sheep from the Lake District with a distinctive flavoured meat. They were on the menu of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation banquet!

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With over 40% of the Lewes Downs owned and managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust it is important to us that we can help local people enjoy and understand this landscape whilst we work with our neighbours to enhance its potential value for wildlife. Improving the ecological status of the Ouse is an important task as is bringing the role of biodiversity in flood prevention to the fore.

Jump into the Lewes Downs

The Lewes and Ouse Valley Living Landscape Vision is to see a local community engaging fully with their local environment, as a place of tranquility, recreation and wildlife. We want to help local residents be more connected to their river and help the river provide better ‘environmental services’ for people and wildlife.



There is a tricky balance to meet when managing chalk grassland. How much grazing is required, or how much scrub clearance? The end result of good management is a habitat that assails the senses. Lie back in the summer and smell the wild thyme around you, listen to the skylarks singing above you and watch the bright fluttering jewels that are the Adonis blue butterflies.

Below the Downs flows the River Ouse. Some areas of the river system are rich in wildlife, whilst in others centuries of engineering the have left deep, often slow moving water, disconnected from its floodplain and with little wildlife value.

The link between the downland and the river is not obvious to everyone. The slow filtration of rainwater through the chalk aquifer feeds clean fresh water into the Ouse which in turn provides drinking water to thousands of residents. All along the river the natural habitats of woodland, wetland and grasslands play their part in flood control, an important issue to the residents of Lewes which flooded severely in 2000.

The value of wildlife in this area is immense. Building on this and sharing that value with the local communities is our aim.

With over 40% of the Lewes Downs owned and managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust it is important to us that we can help local people enjoy and understand this landscape whilst we work with our neighbours to enhance its potential value for wildlife. Improving the ecological status of the Ouse is an important task as is bringing the role of biodiversity in flood prevention to the fore.

Map contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right. All rights reserved 2011

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