Stonehenge grasslands restoration project
Contact detailsContact name: The Ecology Team
Organisation: The National Trust
PartnersThe National Trust, English Nature/Natural England, English Heritage
The Stonehenge Master Plan (published 1998) had the laudable intention to make the stone circle (a World Heritage Site) the centrepiece of an ancient landscape and achieve lasting gains for hard-pressed chalk downland wildlife. It is ironic that the near-constant roar of traffic makes it difficult to glean any sense of peace, mystery or wonder from a visit to England's most famous prehistoric monument. The visionary Master Plan set out a 10-year project to change all that, by proposing the closure of the A344, putting the A303 underground and creating an uninterrupted chalk downland landscape that would give visitors a sweeping panorama of the stones in the sort of setting they were in when first positioned there. Unfortunately the plan to close the A344 and put the A303 underground proved too costly to afford, and these proposals were scrapped in 2007. Further consultations and draft plans were published on a consultation website in 2008. In 2010 English Heritage published Stonehenge World Heritage Site A stratgey for learning, interpretation and participation 2010-2015 which inlcudes a section on ongoing conservation management of the surrounding grasslands.
Large areas of former arable land close to the World Heritage Site have been sown with locally harvested seed over the past 10 years and now form the largest area of re-created downland in Britain; much of it is under the ownership of The National Trust (Countess Farm estate) who have published some superb photos of the area on a Stonehenge landscape webpage. Charles Flower carried out and supervised the majority of seed collection and sowing of the new grasslands.
For further information and an update, contact the National Trust ecology team at Swindon.