Barlavington Estate

Barlavington Estate
Public Consultation
Introduction

Welcome to our introduction to the Barlavington Whole Estate Plan. A Whole Estate Plan is a document that provides an insight into the Estate, its history, and the activities it supports, together with thinking around key themes for the management of the Estate now and in the future and some specific projects that the Estate plans to bring forward.

Following an opportunity to take account of any views you may want to share with us, the Whole Estate Plan will be completed, submitted to and considered by the South Downs National Park Authority for formal endorsement. Once endorsed, it will guide our future management and will become a material consideration in any planning applications made by or affecting the Estate.

You can find more details of Whole Estate Plans and their use and treatment by the National Park Authority on their website – click here to access.

On the remainder of these pages you will find a slidedeck style presentation of the emerging themes and projects that will be presented to the South Downs National Park Authority within our Whole Estate Plan.

You will also find a comments form that you can complete and submit. Please note that you will need to enter a postcode for your home or business address in order for the system to accept your submission.

Finally, we have provided a series of Fact Sheets providing more information about the estate’s activities and some case studies of the projects it has undertaken.

Estate Map
Fact Sheets

I am very aware that the Estate is in an unusual and privileged position. We control our own land, we run an increasingly diversified business and are not solely reliant on farming income, and we can and do take a very long-term view. I am in no position to preach to my neighbours, and I hope I have largely avoided doing so. At the same time, I have tried to be active in the broader conversation within the land management community about what sustainable farming looks like and how it can be achieved.

I took over the Barlavington home dairy farm at Crouch in 1999 and started on the process of Organic conversion to Soil Association standards, which we completed some two years later.

The home farm has gone through various different management regimes – run directly, contract farmed, and now tenanted – but the objective has always been the same: to run as much of the Estate as possible under Organic principles and to use our own livestock for conservation grazing and the management of the most important wildlife areas of the Estate, consistent with a profitable farming business.

As we approach 20 years under Organic management at Barlavington I feel we have been broadly successful. The home farm currently manages half the agricultural area of the Estate. We have participated in the highest delivery options under every agri-environment scheme available and helped our tenants wherever possible to do the same.

We have planted approximately 3km of hedges and maintained 10 acres of wide field margins. We have replaced the failing slurry management system with a new lagoon to modern standards and roofed over dirty yards where we can. We have improved animal welfare with new cow housing and milking facilities, and reduced antibiotic use. Whilst we were farming directly we showed many groups of schoolchildren and other visitors round the farm. Equally importantly, I’ve been immensely proud to have been able to give an opportunity over the years to two hugely energetic, imaginative, talented and award-winning young farmers, one as a manager and one as a tenant: , our current tenants at Crouch Farm are now running a productive dairy business producing around 1.8 million litres of Organic milk a year and have recently diversified into cheese.

Meanwhile the environmental benefits of Organic management over nearly 1,000 acres of farmland at the very heart of the SDNP have been sustained. This is not the place to enter into the complex debate about the environmental merits of Organic farming, and we have no definitive data to measure these impacts at Barlavington, but it is clear that eliminating inorganic nitrogen fertiliser applications improves both soil structure and water quality, whilst increased use of clover leys benefits bees and other pollinators.

Environment Agency data from the borehole at Barlavington Stud has shown that there has been a downward trend in Nitrate levels since sampling started in 2004. The results demonstrate how concentrations of Nitrate has remained consistently below 2.22mg/l and are well below drinking water standards.

Two areas of the Estate have been a particular focus of our conservation efforts over the years, and in both cases it is hard to imagine how we could have protected and improved them without the close management control and Organic principles that the home farm made possible.

Shortly after I had taken over Crouch Farm the tenant at Besley Farm retired. He and his family had run the 225-acre farm for many years, with minimal investment and improvement, and when we took it back in hand twenty years ago we found they had been milking six cows in tethered stalls – it was as though time had stood still.

The Waltham Brooks SSSI, across the River Arun from the Amberley Wildbrooks, formed a significant part of the farm, and management here focussed on traditional hay meadows, water level and ditch management and wetland birds. On the slightly higher ground north of the railway the hay meadows were again important, this time principally for wildflowers.

Frances Abraham (one of the authors of the 2018 Flora of Sussex) surveyed the farm for us, and her schedule reads like a plant-spotter’s wish list. Half the Sussex population of Fox Sedge Carex vulpine (RDB vulnerable) was growing in a single field, with other notable rarities including Slender tufted sedge Carex acuta (scarce in Sussex but locally dominant here), Brown sedge Carex disticha (uncommon in Sussex), Southern marsh orchid Dactylorhiza praetermissa (50 spikes), Cut grass Leersia oryzoides (RDB endangered), Narrow-leaved water dropwort Oenanthe silaifolia (Nationally scarce), Small water-pepper Persicaria minor (uncommon Nationally and in Sussex), Lesser pondweed Potamogeton pusillus (scarce in Sussex), Great yellowcress Rorippa amphibia (uncommon in Sussex), Greater water-parsnip Sium latifolium (Nationally scarce & very scarce in Sussex), Marsh stitchwort Stellaria palustris (rare in Sussex), Subterranean clover Trifolium subterraneum and Marsh speedwell Veronica scutellate (both uncommon in Sussex).

North of the A29 on the higher sandier fields Plantlife discovered notable populations of Red-tipped cudweed Filago lutescens and over the years we’ve organised several volunteer days to monitor and protect this very rare plant, which at the time was only hanging on at 16 sites throughout the UK.

Lord’s Piece and Sutton Common SNCI, and the adjoining Coates Castle Park SSSI, managed as one site, is unquestionably the most important and high-profile farmed wildlife site on the Barlavington Estate: 150 acres of heathland restoration under almost 30 years of continuous management as the only Organically-managed heathland in the UK and last remaining native site for the critically endangered Field Cricket Gryllus campestris.

The heathlands of Sussex were made by Man not Nature, or rather by Man acting on Nature over countless generations. All along the sandy ridges below the Sussex Downs the acid, agriculturally marginal heaths were formed by those on the edges of society, grazing, and overgrazing, any land they could find, whilst they cut birch for besom brooms, firewood and faggots (bundles of twigs used to light fires, known locally as “Sussex pimps”) and harvested bracken for animal bedding and the local glass industry (burnt bracken ash is high in potassium, essential for glass making).

After the Second World War Britain’s priority was growing food and replacing the timber which had been expended in the war effort. The new economy and the new agriculture combined with huge social and political changes everywhere were the final nails in the coffin of traditional heathland management. Like everyone else, on any land too poor to be worth ploughing, my father planted trees on Lord’s Piece.

In West Sussex over 90% of heathlands were lost, along with the unique natural assemblage of soil micro-organisms, fungi, insects, plants and animals which had developed to take advantage of the farming activities of human beings. The agricultural abandonment and reforestation of the heaths was neither good nor bad, just a natural process of change in response to changing economic and environmental conditions. But the march of the trees, both self-seeded and planted, and the smothering advance of birch and bramble and bracken with its hungry roots and deep leaf litter, was taking place too fast and over too wide an area for the more delicate plants and animals to move or adapt. Some of the wildlife was probably lost from the Sussex heaths forever; some remained in smaller areas and in reduced numbers.

The Field Cricket Gryllus campestris must once have been common on the heaths of Southern England (Gilbert White mentions it in his Natural History of Selborne) and is still widespread in Europe today, but by the time it was rediscovered, when I was a child in the 1970s, it was only just holding on, at Lord’s Piece: the last place in Great Britain where it survived.

I remember our local vicar, The Rev Daggar, bringing a cricket over to our house in a jam jar so we could hear it chirruping, and later showing us how to tease them out of their burrows with long blades of grass. In 1981 the Field Cricket was included in the list of UK endangered species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (Schedule 5), but apart from a few people knowing it was there and checking up on it not much was done to help it survive.

Then in 1991 a new Government grant scheme was introduced to help farmers and landowners manage their land in a more environmentally sensitive way. Working closely with English Nature (now Natural England) and the Invertebrate Conservation Centre at London Zoo, and led by Mike Edwards, a local entomologist and teacher and the driving force behind the whole project, the Barlavington Estate entered into a Countryside Stewardship Scheme to recreate the Lord’s Piece heathland and save the Field Cricket.

It was one of the first and one of the biggest heathland restoration projects in England: 86 acres of bracken, several feet deep in place, was bulldozed to reveal the sandy soil beneath. The idea was to allow the heather and other heathland plants, whose seeds (we hoped) were still in the ground, to regrow. It worked… eventually… but for the first couple of years it looked like a First World War battlefield and there was a lot of local concern, and a few angry letters to the press, especially when we put a fence round the whole site.

Fencing was always going to be controversial, but there were plenty of gates: we weren’t trying to exclude the public. One of the first things my father did when he bought the Estate was to take down all the “Private – Keep Out” notices on Lord’s Piece. He opened it up and was happy to see local people walking there, enjoying the countryside and the magnificent views of the South Downs. We wanted to continue this tradition, but at the same time we needed to get animals back on Lord’s Piece, for the first time in 50 years or more, to graze down the plants and tree seedlings and make the short tussocky grassland with bare sandy patched which the Field Cricket required.

At first, because there was a “horsey culture” in the family, we tried grazing the site with Exmoor Ponies. They were here for several years, looked wonderful, only sat on small children occasionally and everyone loved them. Unfortunately, it became clear over time that their grazing habits were just not producing the ground conditions we were looking for, so they retired to a Nature Reserve in Norfolk. More recently Organic cattle from our home farm have been providing conservation grazing to manage the site, under a series of management plans approved by Natural England.
Meanwhile we have not been neglecting the area designated in 1993 as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for the Field Cricket and the original stronghold of the species: Coates Castle Park.

Coates Castle, which is Listed Grade II, was built by John King in the 1820s in the Strawberry Hill Gothic Style. He sold the property to George Wyndham (and I believe that it was for a time a Dower House for the Leconfield (Petworth) Estate); it is now split up into flats. When my father bought the Barlavington Estate he acquired the surrounding Coates Castle Park but not the house itself.

Here too my father planted trees, but on a grand scale and to a landscape scheme laid out by Dame Sylvia Crowe . Because of this planting and the later SSSI citation conservation management has taken a slower, less intrusive and sometimes less successful route.

Field Crickets require tussocky grass for their burrows and areas of bare ground to sun themselves, to forage and to call to attract their mates. At Coates Castle Park the SSSI citation protects not the whole site but only long narrow lawns: the only places the insects were still singing in 1993.

These lawns had been kept open only by rabbit grazing and occasional ploughing to establish cover crops for the local shoot and were slowly being lost to a mat of cold and smothering moss, completely unsuitable for Field Cricket.

In the last ten years, with the increase in timber prices, we have been able to clear much of the afforested area in Coates Castle Park and Lord’s Piece and are now in the process of returning these areas to heathland.

We have made mistakes, undoubtedly, but the Field Cricket, on the very edge of its natural range here in the South East of England, is also very susceptible to poor weather during the breeding season. In any case, we are seeing a slow recovery of the Field Cricket at Lord’s Piece and Coates Castle Park.

Our management at Lord’s Piece differs from most other heathland sites in that we are focused on a single endangered insect, the Field Cricket. However, this management does provide the benefits of heathland restoration generally. Regular monitoring of plants and reptiles has not taken place, but we do have good data on birds, for which we are very grateful to Alan Perry at the Sussex Ornithological Society.

This is not the place for a detailed analysis of the bird survey data at Lord’s Piece, but it is noticeable that there are generally fewer species than on other heathland sites, and ground nesting species in particular, struggle here: whilst Woodlark does relatively well, Nightjar seems to have been lost and Dartford Warbler has never been recorded here.

Why might this be so? Managing heathland as part of a working livestock farm imposes resource constraints which environmental NGOs might not face. We try to do what is required under our agri-environment grant scheme using the tools which are available to us. An added complication is Organic management – we cannot use sprays to control bracken, bramble and birch, and mechanical control cannot really start early enough in the year to suppress them because of the nesting bird interest. A result of these constraints is that there is more bracken on the site than we or Natural England would like. We have lost grazing animals to bracken poisoning on several occasions and this has made farm managers reluctant to risk grazing stock, or to commit them in the numbers which might be necessary.

However, the most difficult problem, and the biggest impact on ground nesting birds, is the sheer number people who visit the site, particularly with dogs.

Lord’s Piece is a dog-walkers’ paradise! It is a lovely, open, dry site, easy to get to and easy to enjoy, with a secure stockproof fence all round it so dogs cannot get lost, and it has two public car parks, freely available twenty-four hours a day every day of the year. Since June 2018 we have been monitoring them, in an unscientific and irregular way, by simply noting how many cars are parked as we drive by. It is very unusual to see no cars – on average there are six cars on the site whenever you pass which might equate to 10,000 visits per year

Most visitors have dogs – some are professional dog walkers. We cannot keep dogs off the site. We could try to restrict access to dogs on leads during the bird nesting season, but people might not pay much attention and we could not police it. We just have to think of the positive benefits of people getting out and enjoying the countryside.

Lord’s Piece is registered as Open Access Land under the Countryside ad Rights of Way Act 2000. Whatever the actual numbers it’s clearly used and enjoyed by thousands of people every year, and not just for walking: we have regular orienteering and other organised events such as geocaching there throughout the year; schools and voluntary groups visit, including the South Downs Rangers and the VRS, for which we are always very grateful. In 2018 Lord’s Piece was the centre of a large Sussex Search and Rescue training exercise. We are currently working with the SDNPA to provide better access to Lord’s Piece for disabled visitors, and to improve the car parks (we are looking at having one large car park instead of two smaller ones, which would be easier for us to maintain)

So instead of trying to discourage dog walkers we have been working with our neighbouring landowners to extend the local heathland restoration area and address visitor pressure in other ways. I believe we have provided leadership, or at least offered an example for others to follow, including hosting the local Heathland Forum in 2009, and many Heathland Forum site visits since then.

Our coordinated management now stretches across perhaps 250 acres of heathland restoration, with potential to expand this further as part of an eventual mineral site restoration at Horncroft. In particular, we are able to compare areas of heavy public access, such as Lord’s Piece, with heathlands enjoying linear access only, and those sites such as Coates Castle Park where no public access is allowed. In addition, we have been working with the RSPB and the SDNPA as part of the “Back From the Brink” Field Cricket programme.

My father expected me to continue his style of management I suppose, but instead after the 1987 storm and subsequent events I focussed on the natural restoration of the woodlands (what we might now call a rewilding approach) particularly in the SSSI Hanger woods and the ancient semi-natural farm woods. With the market flooded and timber prices through the floor, and every cutting gang working at full stretch and charging rates to match, it seemed sensible to take a slower approach and watch Nature take her course.

One area where I did intervene however was Moon Copse.

Moon Copse is a corner of an arable farm in a very prominent position on the Duncton to Bignor escarpment with magnificent views east along to South Downs to Chanctonbury Ring and beyond. In 1969 my father planted it with Beech trees Fagus sylvatica to commemorate the Apollo 11 moon landings (and perhaps also as a memorial to his elder brother who had died as a child and was called “Fagus”).

Beech is a climax species, not a pioneer – it needs the shelter of other trees and shrubs to thrive, although it ultimately outgrows and overshadows them. The Fagus plantation made hardly any growth in over 20 years, and when I returned to Barlavington the trees were windblown, stunted and miserable and were clearly never going to make mature woodland. With my father’s agreement we decided to remove most of them, leaving only a memorial clump at the very apex of the site. Beneath and all around were the remnants of a pre-war chalk grassland untouched by modern farming.

We were already running the home farm organically and we used dairy youngstock and dry cows to graze the site. Grazing is not easy here: Moon Copse is remote from the centre of the farm, has no proper vehicular access track and no water, but we did our best and slowly the site started to come back to life, as evidenced for example in the Moon Copse Chalk Grassland Restoration Plan 2005 written by Angela Shepherd (Sussex Downs Conservation Board) and Roger Matthews (English Nature):

“Grasses present include sheep’s fescue and false wood-brome, together with a wide range of herbs including: wild basil; cowslip; common bird’s foot trefoil; agrimony; yarrow; wild strawberry; lady’s bedstraw; autumn hawkbit; selfheal; common spotted orchid; pyramidal orchid; burnet saxifrage; harebell; marjoram; oxeye daisy; and field scabious. The site is also particularly important for butterflies and supports populations of a number of species associated with undergrazed chalk grassland. The most notable of these is Duke of Burgundy, but other species found here include grizzled and dingy skipper and marbled white.”

Over the years we have been helped immensely by the SDNPA (and its predecessor bodies the SDCB and the SDJC), by volunteer groups from Butterfly Conservation and by students from Brisbury College. Sadly, the Duke of Burgundy has not been recorded recently, but we hope it will return under our current Countryside Stewardship Scheme, and in the meantime the chalk grassland display remains magnificent.

In 2009 we placed a stone memorial here to my late father.

Even before the acquisition of Duncton Mill the Barlavington Estate owned about half of the internationally important Duncton to Bignor Escarpment Site of Special Scientific Interest, designated as a European Special Area of Conservation in 2005.

In the steep-sided and densely wooded coombes of the north- and east-facing scarp you find a high proportion of dead standing and fallen timber and a constantly cool and moist micro-climate, where crystal clear and cold chalk springs bubble through the dense humus-rich forest soil. Some parts are so steep that they may never have been cleared for agriculture.

Here one finds rare plants such as white helleborine Cephalanthera damasonium, yellow bird’s nest Monotropa hypopitys, green hellebore Helleborus viridis and limestone fern Gymnopcarpium robertium. The woods also have a rich mollusc fauna including the largest British colony of the rare snail Helicodonta obvoluta, and a notable assemblage of rare moths.

These are magical place, best left alone.

Other areas are more open, where huge old beech, ash and yew trees dominate the woods on more accessible slopes.

Here there is ample evidence of past coppice management, and indeed even in the 1950s my father’s old Estate map shows open ground, or fields just scrubbing over, where today high forest stands. Here too we find glades, kept open by rabbit and deer browsing, where relict chalk grassland still clings on. This has clearly not been woodland continuously since 1600, whatever the Ancient Woodland designation may say; indeed Frances Abraham (one of the co-authors of the Sussex Botanical Recording Society’s Flora of Sussex 2018) has suggested to me that large areas of the Hanger woods here were probably semi-open wood pasture rather than the closed-canopy woodland we see today.

To achieve a balance between these different possible pasts and futures, our present management objective, agreed with the Forestry Commission and Natural England, is to keep relict chalk grassland areas open and join them up with widened rides along which plants, animals and insects can more easily move around and which will improve the overall biodiversity and resilience of the Hanger woods: our present clearance of dead and dying ash trees has kick-started this process

In 2001 the Estate acquired Duncton Mill. Included in the sale was 20 acres of Hanger woodland which had been planted in the 1960s with Western Red Cedar, a highly productive and highly invasive non-native commercial timber species.

As part of commercial forestry plantations Western Red Cedar is an excellent choice on many sites, and we have stands growing well on several areas of the Estate, but it is definitely not “the right tree in the right place” in a European Special Area of Conservation such as the Duncton to Bignor Escarpment SSSI woodlands. In 2013, with help from the SDNPA and the Forestry Commission, we brought in Frankie Woodgate and her heavy horses.

The site and the weather were challenging, but over a couple of years we managed to clear all but a few of the Western Red Cedar from Duncton Down, most of it finding a useful outlet in local fencing and firewood markets.

We were immensely grateful to the SDNPA for their help, and subsequently to Butterfly Conservation whose local volunteers cleared the “lop and top” (the unsalable branchwood and foliage from tree felling) to benefit rare plants and the moths that rely on them, such as the wonderfully named Drab Looper Minoa murinata and the magnificent Plumed Prominent Ptilophora plumigera, both found in these woods. Trapping in 2019 yielded “probably the largest number [of Plumed Prominent] recorded in Sussex for a couple of decades”

You might think that using horses is old fashioned but in fact it’s a very progressive way to manage woods. Taking machines into a sensitive area can damage young trees and compact the woodland floor slowing down the return of native trees. Tobias and Ardennes work very hard and on a good day just one of them can clear up to 20 tonnes of wood.

Clearing a plantation in the middle of an area recognised internationally for the importance of its wildlife is a big challenge. Not only is the land very sensitive but it’s also on a 45 degree slope, so machines just weren’t an option. Using heavy horses means that we can get right up into the plantation with very little impact on the rest of the site. In fact, having Tobias and Ardennes’ big hooves churning up the ground under the plantation, will actually help our native trees return sooner.

Press Statement – Sebastian Anstruther & Frankie Woodgate

In 1989, I set up Lodge Copse, a 16-acre ancient semi-natural farm copse, as Britain’s first Demonstration Woodland. Working with the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers in collaboration first with the South Downs Joint Committee, and since 2013 with the South Downs National Park Authority and its Volunteer Ranger Service.

Our objectives have remained unchanged:

  • To return the copse to its traditional coppice with standards woodland structure and enhance its silvicultural value.
  • To enhance the copse’s value for its flora and fauna whenever possible.
  • To provide amenity value.
  • To be commercially minded where possible.
  • To use the copse for educational purposes.
  • To use the copse in its capacity as a demonstration wood.

In other words, to meet environmental, social and economic goals and try, through practical action and experience, to find a sustainable balance between them.

After thirty years the Lodge Copse project has expanded to take in the neighbouring Brickfield Copse and is still going strong. Many rare plants and insects thrive here, and Nightingales can be heard on still summer evenings. Hundreds of people, from community groups, schoolchildren, stressed executives, ex-offenders, young people needing a new direction in life and those recovering from mental illness, as well as open day visitors and the dedicated group of regular local volunteers, have benefited from a chance to experience, as I did, even if only for a while, the restorative pleasure of just messing about in the woods. It has been, and continues to be, a great success.

When we took over Duncton Mill we found an old apple orchard. I knew traditional orchards were important for biodiversity because of their long history of grazing and because they often also contained interesting and sometimes rare traditional fruit varieties; Common Ground’s pioneering work on orchards was also in my mind.

My efforts to start a community orchard at Duncton Mill failed, foundering on issues of public liability, lack of local volunteers and my own inexperience, but it was a fruitful failure as it brought me into contact with the local village primary school at Duncton, where I’m now a Governor.

As the school is less than a mile from the orchard the children often walk up here, and over the last few years they have witnessed the gradual replanting of the orchard with every known variety of Sussex apple. Under the guidance of Peter May, who runs the orchard at Stanmer Park for the Brighton Permaculture Trust, we are replicating that collection under different soil and climate conditions to safeguard our precious genetic heritage of Sussex apples on a second site. Duncton Mill Orchard was registered with Plant Heritage as a National Collection of Malus sylvestris (Sussex varieties) in 2020.

In the early 2000s timber prices started to recover and we could get back into the commercial woods and start to manage them again.

Since then we have planted approximately eight thousand trees over 26 acres and 3 km of hedgerows. It has been a real pleasure to me to be able to get back into the woods, thinning and replanting, maintaining ditches and culverts, looking after veteran trees and improving both biodiversity and resilience, and investing in the woodlands again for my children and grandchildren, as previous generations invested for me.

It’s good, too, to be providing energy and building materials from our own resources. We have not invested in a woodchip boiler on the Estate as we do not have a “great house” or an “estate village” that we can economically provide heat to – although we have installed other low carbon energy systems (see below).

However, the opening in 2018 of the Kent Renewable Energy biomass-fired combined-heat-and-power plant has provided a new profitable market for chip wood from forest operations which would otherwise have been burned on site. The Kent facility can produce enough power to supply the equivalent of 50,000 homes while offsetting 100,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, helping the environment and significantly improving the overall economics of woodland management throughout the South East. All the dead ash from our Hanger woods is going to the Kent plant; the increase in woodfuel prices has made this necessary safety work financially possible.

On the Estate, we put a woodburning stove into every property we renovate, and encourage our tenants to use them, and to buy well-seasoned dry logs from a local supplier who in turn gets much of his wood from us. The sustainability of logburners has been questioned recently, but it still makes sense ecologically and financially to burn good wood from local sources if you can.

The Estate also regularly provide delivered loads of logs as raffle prizes for local fetes and fairs.

We have been able to make a difference locally in other ways too, for instance by providing the timber used to construct the award-winning Fittleworth Community Shop (another recipient of an SDNPA Sustainable Communities Fund grant). This project has transformed a small community in the heart of the National Park; we’ve been really proud to support it from our own resources.

…if we burn the right wood in the right way we can actually improve both our carbon footprint and our air quality…. wood fuel should be a carbon neutral resource; the C02 released on burning is matched by the amount absorbed when it is growing. Well-managed woodlands will ensure that healthy trees remain long into the future, with carbon locked up in the mature trees, soils and vegetation, and further C02 taken up as young trees grow. This means that the woodland cycle is not just renewable and carbon neutral, but can result in a net carbon benefit…. A simple shift from fossil fuels to wood fuel, and open fires to wood burners means that we can also make a huge improvement in air quality.

The Case for Wood Fuel
John Everitt, The Ecologist Magazine, 15/03/2019 / https://theecologist.org/2019/mar/15/case-wood-fuel

The Barlavington Estate has 1,000 acres of woodland: from ancient woodland of the highest environmental value such as the Duncton to Bignor SSSI SAC, and The Moor, a SSSI wet woodland forming part of the Burton and Chingford Ponds Local Nature Reserve, and small farm copses, themselves often ancient semi-natural woodland, such as Lodge Copse, through to commercially managed softwood and hardwood forest stands, to orchards and natural flood management plantations, and even the odd area of deliberate non-intervention, unmanaged succession rewilding.

Deer are a valuable natural resource if managed sustainably, but when occurring at excessive densities, they can have negative effects on biodiversity, the rural economy, human health and safety, and animal welfare.

Government agencies, NGOs, and academics believe that deer are more abundant and widespread now than at any time in the past 1,000 years.

Wild Deer Postnote No 325
Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology 2009
https://www.parliament.uk/documents/post/postpn325.pdf

All of these woodland areas are severely impacted by deer. A walk through any of them shows very little succession of new, young trees and a severely modified or totally absent ground flora and shrub layer. Trees are being damaged by fraying (antler rubbing) and bark stripping, and the characteristic browse lines of both roe deer and fallow are evident. Both new planting and the restoration of coppice management require physical protection; usually we now use 2m high deer fences.

All woodlands under a Forestry Commission grant scheme – and that is all woodlands on this Estate – now require a written deer management policy and evidence of active and sustained deer control. We split the Estate between two highly-qualified deer stalkers who report their returns annually. One of our stalkers has developed a thriving game dealership business, based in commercial premises rented from the Estate and now employing two full-time members of staff: Jack Smallman’s South Downs Venison and Game supplies farmers’ markets, restaurants and pubs throughout the South East and in London, and is the only game business to hold the South Downs National Park venison accreditation certificate.

…over-grazing and browsing in ancient woodland is linked to declines in characteristic plant species, woodland bird species, and invertebrate abundance and diversity, and also prevents adequate regeneration of trees and coppice.

Woodland Trust Deer Management Position Statement 2014
https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/publications/2014/01/deer/

…wild deer densities significantly higher here than anywhere else in Europe… mean our woodlands are heavily modified and often in a much-degraded condition.

2018 Guidelines for the Selection of Biological SSSIs. Part 2:
Detailed Guidelines for Habitats and Species Groups. Chapter 2a Woodlands, Wood Pasture and Parkland, and Veteran Trees. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough
Latham, J, Hall, J, Holl, K, Perry, S, Goldberg, E.
http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/pdf/SSSI_chapter2awoodlands_2018v2.pdf

Finally, after many years liaising with our regional Deer Initiative Officer Jamie Cordery, with the active encouragement of the SDNPA, and thanks to the energy and vision of a neighbouring estate, it looks as though a local Deer Management Group may be forming. We look forward to playing an active part.

Without appropriate management, deer populations will impose long-term changes on the composition of native woodlands… Management of deer populations is necessary to limit their impact, particularly in ancient semi-natural woodlands.

In view of the fact that deer can extend their ranges over several thousand hectares, control is best achieved through the co-ordinated efforts of a local deer management group.

The Impact of Deer on Woodland Biodiversity Forestry Commission 2000
http://adlib.everysite.co.uk/resources/000/111/044/fcin36.pdf

As we look forwards, there seem to be so many developing threats to the health of our woodlands that it’s easy to lose heart. I grew up seeing the devastating effects of Dutch Elm Disease and now Ash dieback Hymenoscyphus fraxineus, Ramorum disease Phytophthora ramorum (devastating our riverside Alders and now understood to be causing Sudden Oak Death) and Sweet Chestnut Blight Cryphonectria parasitica are all ravaging our broadleaf trees.

Over all this looms Climate Change, which stresses the trees we already have, helps new pests and diseases to attack them, dries them out in summer and blows them over in winter.

But we must continue to look forward and plan, even in this uncertain state of knowledge, for the future. Following expert advice from the Forestry Commission’s Forest Research we have already carried out one experimental planting of species which might best survive, or even thrive, in the climate future we presently foresee, and we shall no doubt do more in the years to come.

Silica sand is recognised as a mineral of strategic national, importance which supports an extensive range of industrial end-uses. A silica content of >95% (as well as minimal inclusions of elements such as iron) is critical to many of the high tech and industrial end-uses, such as silicon chips and clear glass products. Minerals can only be worked where they are found, and silica sand deposits are recognised, by the British Geological Survey (BGS), as being a “scarce resource”.

The UK is currently self-sufficient in its supply of silica sand. However, the BGS recognise that for end uses such as colourless glass, there is far less certainty in the medium to long term. Silica Sand’s benefits are considered by U.K Government policy on a National, as opposed to entirely regional, scale.

Silica Sand of the quality required for high-grade specification products such as sodium silicate and clear glass (windows, lenses, etc) only occurs at a very limited number of viable deposits such as those found across the Barlavington Estate.

Large areas of the Barlavington Estate sit on the Folkestone Formation, recognised as bearing silica sand suitable for some of the highest-grade end-uses. This Nationally important mineral resource / reserve has been worked on the Estate from well before the Anstruther family acquired it, having been licenced by the previous owners in 1932 – a period of over 90 years – at what is known locally as Coates Sandpit. This quarry contains a significant reserve of high-grade silica sand, extending eastwards to Horncroft.

Identified as the Horncroft / Coates reserve, the Coates Sandpit site is estimated to have reserves of 500,000 to 800,000 tonnes, whilst the adjoining and geologically continuous Horncroft reserve is estimated at 1.5 million tonnes.

The plan making process of the current iteration of the Minerals Local Plan for West Sussex examined the National demand for Silica Sand in detail. The Local Plan Inspector determined that the position relating to National reserves was such that an allocation within a National Park could not, at that time, be justified but supported the inclusion of a criteria-based policy to enable extraction of Silica Sand if exceptional circumstances are demonstrated and the proposal is deemed to be in the public interest. The Inspector also required that the presence of Silica Sand at the Horncroft site be formally recorded and the site included in the mineral safeguarding area.

Barlavington Estate recognises the National importance of the Horncroft / Coates reserve and is committed to safeguarding and subsequently enabling their extraction in response to any increasing & unmet National demand as and when the planning system allows.

The Estate has previously invested in landscaping improvements to minimise potential visual impact to local receptors as and when the reserve is extracted. It continues to factor future mineral extraction from this area into its approach to farming and land management and will ensure that ongoing work to support biodiversity and establish wildlife corridors fits with the wider environment of any future surface workings.

Mineral sites play an essential role in helping to halt and reverse ongoing declines in biodiversity in the UK.

The scale of this potential contribution to biodiversity was first identified in the report ‘Nature After Minerals: how mineral sites restoration can benefit people and wildlife’, which was published in 2006. This report identified that mineral sites had the potential to deliver 100 per cent of the national habitat creation targets for nine priority habitats, including reedbed, lowland heathland and wet grassland.

RSPB Nature after Minerals website

https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/our-positions-and-casework/our-positions/land-use-planning/minerals-planning/

In addition to its wealth of natural capital The Barlavington Estate provides and maintains social, economic, and cultural capital.

Social

The Estate provides 41 homes for rent. These are distributed across several communities including Duncton, Barlavington, Sutton, Bignor, Coates, Fittleworth, Bury, Watersfield and Coldwaltham. The provision of these homes provides the opportunity for people to live and work in the local area.Many of our tenants might not be able to afford the type, size or setting of property that they enjoy occupying, whilst benefiting from the management services the Estate provides.

Up to a third (14 of 41) of the Estate’s houses are listed buildings. The Estate takes its responsibilities under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 extremely seriously and ensures that the heritage value of these properties is conserved whilst making them as suitable as is possible for modern living. The opportunity to live in historic buildings is hugely valued by the Estate’s tenants, many of whom continue to enjoy a long uninterrupted tenure.

The Estate’s residential properties are enduringly popular. There is a very low level of ‘churn’ (sub 5% annually) with stock, even the larger or quirkier units like Manor Farmhouse at Duncton or the former schoolhouse at Coates, rarely empty for long.

Over half of the Estate’s residential properties are let to families, 14 of whom have school aged children. Several of the properties form part of farm enterprises, several are let to people who work locally (such as the operators at Duncton Mill Lakes and the owners of South Downs Game) and some are used by the Anstruther family. All bar two are let or occupied as principle residences.

The people and families who live in the Estate’s residential property make an important economic and social contribution and significantly enhance the vitality of local communities.

The letting of residential property generates important income to the Estate. It is far from cost free however, a substantial proportion of rents received is reinvested each year in repairs, maintenance and the renovation of properties that have been subject to long occupancy and return ‘in hand’. Where properties are listed, or substantial works are required to bring them up to modern energy performance standards, the costs are inevitably higher.

This expenditure generates a significant and additional local economic benefit as the Estate spends on average around £500,000 each year on total expenditure to support the maintenance and renovation programme, using only local suppliers and trades people.

The management team at the Estate estimates that over £2.75m has been spent with local suppliers on materials alone in the last fifteen years.

Economic

The Estate also provides farming and commercial premises.

There are 6 farming enterprises on the Estate, by far the largest of which is the Organic ‘home farm’ at Crouch Farm. Previously farmed direct by the Estate, Crouch Farm is now run by a leading young dairy farmer, Joe Delves, supplying organic milk to the farmer owned cooperative Arla. The Estate liaises closely with the farm tenant and co-ordinates its environmental stewardship alongside grazing and grassland management.

The Estate provides a wide range of commercial premises, hosting 33 business in all with tenants as diverse as a fish farm and wedding venue, digital marketing company, venison butcher, furniture warehouse and geological exploration company. In all the Estate lets some 47,500 sq feet of commercial space with an additional 20,000 sq ft of currently redundant agricultural barns offering further commencial work-space potential over the coming years.

There are currently two main commercial sites on the Estate, at Tripp Hill Farm and Barlavington Stud. The Estate expects to invest in and grow these sites over time, creating more workspace at Tripp Hill Farm and at Barlavington. Additional workspace is also in development in the large Black Barn in Duncton Mill and The Dean Barn at Duncton Manor Farm.

To date the Estate hosts limited leisure activity. This is changing as the use of Duncton Lakes for functions and celebrations gathers pace. New tenants at the Duncton Fish Farm from 2019 will add further impetus, leading to new ideas and increased activity.

These commercial tenants bring jobs, spending and investment and vibrancy to the local area. They also provide vital revenue to the Estate that is used to help meet ownership liabilities and support environmental stewardship

Development projects to create this workspace also deliver huge benefits to the local economy, employing local people and generating spending in the local areas as valuable contracts are awarded to local building firms, trades people and professionals. For example, the 2019 project to convert the Barn at Duncton Mill is worth c. £372,000, all of which will be spent with local suppliers.

Cultural

The Estate hosts a portfolio of important cultural capital. This includes the diverse range of built heritage assets, places and landmarks with cultural significance and connections with art, science and literature arising from the areas’ special qualities.

Heritage

There is a high incidence of heritage assets across the Estate, these include several Scheduled Ancient Monuments and over 14 listed buildings.

The Scheduled Ancient Monuments tell the story of the history of human life at Barlavington. They include a pre-historic linear boundary on Barlavington Down, a series of earthworks and barrows dating from the Late Neolithic period to the Late Bronze Age (2400 to 1500 BC) and the site of a Romano British settlement with minor Roman Villa at Church Farm (Duncton Manor Farm) to the south of Duncton.

There are c. 14 listed buildings across the Estate . All are Grade 2 Listed. The listed buildings are a mix of dwellings and barns dating from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

The listed buildings provide a fascinating insight into the history of life in the area.

The 17th century properties include farmhouses, farm and Estate cottages showing the establishment of significant farming enterprise.

These are added to in the 18th and 19th centuries with functional buildings such as large barns at Barlavington Farm, Duncton Mill, Duncton Manor Farm and at Lee Farm to the east of Fittleworth. A mill is recorded at Duncton Mill in the Domesday Book (1086) and there have been watermills here continuously since then. The 18th century saw significant development to make use of the prolific springs at Duncton Mill. The Watermill, Granary and Stables where followed by the construction of the Mill House.

Equally part of the story of farming and land-based enterprise are the series of smaller barns with associated fold yards situated on roadsides, at the beginning of the scarp slope, by ponds and wooded areas. These include Northcomb Barn, Lodge Copse Barn, Ravesland Copse Barn, Ides Copse Barn, the Old Slaughter House at Greatham Bridge and Wiltshire’s Barn.

Now completely unsuitable for the use for which they were designed, a new approach needs to be found to meet the significant ongoing costs associated with the maintenance of these traditional buildings if they are to survive. Small steps have already been taken with the consent to use Wiltshire’s Barn (situated just west of Barlavington) as a training centre for Forest Schools teachers and an artist’s retreat.

Whilst Coldwaltham and Waltham Park farmhouses play the same role today as when they were built the remaining listed buildings are no longer connected to farm units. The remaining houses and cottages are let to residential tenants, providing the opportunity for people to enjoy living on or near working farms with a connection to the past.

The large barns all need new uses. Work has started to convert the Black Barn at Duncton Mill for commercial use whilst planning permission has been granted to convert the large Sussex Barn at Barlavington , with its associated smaller buildings, to provide new housing. At the time of writing a planning applicationhas been submitted for the use of the Dean Barn at Duncton Manor Farm as an event space focussed on local food, in partnership with a well-established and award-winning local food business.

A viable plan is also needed to ensure the conservation of Duncton Watermill. Whilst only listed as Grade 2 it is a heritage asset of real significance being one of very few surviving examples of a watermill with all its original wooden machinery still in situ, albeit in an advanced stage of decay. The watermill has been fully surveyed and the report, by Ron Martin for the Sussex Industrial Archaeological Society, won an award in 2007.

The interior of the Mill remains substantively intact with grain bins and working gear all in place. The Mill represents a major historical and educational resource. Four stories high with its ‘feet’ in the water it is in an increasingly perilous condition.

The view of the Estate is that the structure and interior of the Watermill is too fragile and important to support a conversion to any form of use that will be commercially viable. The building is in urgent need of restoration however and the Estate’s aspiration is to secure a form of funding that does not require repayment.

One option would be to secure grants or charitable donations but if these are not available the Estate is willing to consider some form of enabling development on another site to generate the funds needed to secure the Watermill’s future.

Cultural Heritage

The Barlavington Estate is rich in the cultural as well as built heritage that has shaped the special qualities of the South Downs National Park. Cultural heritage assets include the links to the past offered by the story of the interaction with, and use of, natural capital by people and communities. They include landmarks with cultural connections, the lives of artists and writers and the art and literature that resulted.

Living Landscape

The Estate forms part of a living landscape. Timelines of the South Downs landscape researched by the National Park Authority show successive periods of human activity within the area that has become the National Park.

Early human communities returned during the post Ice Age Mesolithic period exploiting natural resources such as woodland and clean water deriving from the series of springs at the foot of the downland scarp slopes.

During the Neolithic era agriculture started to develop; there is evidence of large-scale communal activity with sites such as North Marden, to the west of Barlavington.
Major settlement sites such as The Trundle dominated the landscape in the Iron Age.

Medieval settlements consisted of nucleated clusters on the Greensand shelf and the dip slope of the chalk downlands.

Major increases in population occurred in the post medieval period with changes in agricultural practices leading to farms being run by individuals.

Larger settlements were created in strategic locations to take advantage of natural resources and trading routes. One such settlement was Petworth which continued to expand as trade developed generating wealth and culminating in the creation of large landed “Estates” with associated mansion houses and designed parklands, many originating from medieval deer parks.

Evidence of people, their homes and activity is present in the rich archaeological resources related to Barlavington including the prehistoric linear boundary on Barlavington Down , barrows on Sutton Common, the Romano British settlement at Manor Farm Duncton , alleged deserted medieval settlement in Burton Park and the post medieval Grade 2 listed watermill and associated complex of buildings at Duncton Mill.

Recent periods of dry weather peaking in the ‘drought’ of 2018 have led to further earthworks becoming evident within the cultivated area of farmland …..

SAMs and new ones discovered – aerial photos

The Cuckoo Tree

The fame of this tree, and its cultural importance, reaches worldwide through the work of local children’s writer Joan Aiken MBE who grew up in Sutton and died in Petworth in 2004. Fans of her stories, perhaps the most famous of which is the Wolves Chronicle series which includes The Cuckoo Tree (Doubleday 1971).

The Wolves Chronicles are set in an elaborate alternative history of Britain and feature Aitken’s heroine Dido Twite. The books remain hugely popular across the world, but especially in Japan from where fans often make a pilgrimage to find and visit the Cuckoo Tree.

Regardless of what the future holds the Estate is aware of how Climate Change will continue to affect the environment surrounding Barlavington Estate, and how it is the responsibility of the Estate to manage and enhance the environment. Climate Change is at the heart of many decisions for the Estate and is consistently finding ways to improve and minimise its carbon footprint.

Organic Management – the Gold Standard of “Regenerative” Agriculture

The organic management of land is a key environmental management decision taken by the Estate to reduce the emissions of greenhouses and help mitigate impacts of Climate Change. The absence of fertiliser and organic agricultural techniques contributes to the carbon sequestration of soils and limits the leaching of nasty pollutants into nearby water courses maintaining the water quality.

Barlavington Estate monitors water quality with the borehole located at Barlavington Study where the surrounding land has been under organic management since 1997. Environment Agency data from this borehole shows that there has been a downward trend in Nitrate levels since sampling started in 2004. Nitrate concentrations range between 1.31 -5.4 mg/l. All results, with the exception of the 5.4mg/l result which may be anomalous, portray how concentrations have remained consistently below 2.22mg/l. Although these figures are slight it is encouraging to see how low the nitrate levels are which are well below drinking water standards of 11.3 mg/l.

This is a result of the Estate’s lack of synthetic nitrogen fertilisers which reduces the concentration in soils and thus nitrous oxide emissions and the global warming potential of agriculture. Furthermore, data shows that the only detected fungicide since 2004 has been Flutriafol, with a concentration well below the DWS of 0.1 µg/l. Again, this is due to the organic management of the land.

Rainfall

Since 1941 monthly rainfall reports have been submitted to the Met Office. There is a clear increase in rainfall of about 10% over the 30-year trend. The Estate understands the rise in rainfall and impacts on flooding and the value of natural flood management measures. The planting of eight thousand trees over 26 acres and 3km of hedgerows had multiple benefits acting as a natural flood management defence and also increasing sequestration and reducing greenhouse gas emissions into the atmosphere.

Renewable Energy

The Estate also tries to use renewable energy sources, where possible with areas of the Estate utilising Solar Photovoltaics to capture the sun’s energy. Currently on the Estate there are two 50kwp solar arrays mounted on the rooftops of the barns at Crouch Farm and Tripp Hill. The Estate monitors the energy generated monthly and within the period November 2015 to January 2020 the Estate has generated over 250,000 kwh of zero carbon electricity. This is equal to the average annual domestic consumption of about 17 homes per year and has saved 125 tonnes of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. Just these two solar arrays offset the electricity usage of nearly 40% of the Estate’s domestic properties.

Barlavington Estate also has made improvements to the energy efficiency of Estate properties.

Carbon Sequestration

The examples above demonstrate the Estate’s desire to minimise its carbon footprint. Areas of the Estate provide many carbon sequestration benefits including the many areas of woodlands, heathland and other natural habitats, which have a positive influence on the storage of carbon, evidenced in the table below. Furthermore, when trees are cut down carbon is stored since the local timber is used in Estate buildings.

The Estate is looking at a potential carbon audit of the Estate and how to improve net absorption of carbon and other greenhouse gasses. The table below details the positive carbon sequestration of the habitats on the Estate. The high proportion of coniferous woodland is positive, as conifers keep the majority of the carbon they sequester, whereas deciduous trees give out more carbon overnight.

Carbon SequestrationWorkingsTotal
Woodland405 hectares of woodland (50% conifer, 50% broadleaved)
Broadleaved – 4.97 tonnes / hectare 202.5 X 4.97 =
Coniferous 12.7 tonnes / hectare 202.5X 12.7
c. 1006 broadleaved
c. 2572 coniferous
= c. 3,578 tonnes of carbon dioxide sequestered each year
Heathland60 hectares of lowland heathland. 0.7 tonnes / hectare lowland bogc. 42 tonnes of Co2 sequestered each year
Farmland809 hectares of farmland X 1.11 tonnes/ hectarec. 898 tonnes of Co2 sequestered each year

This section considers the range of Ecosystem Services that arise from the interaction of activities and businesses undertaken by and hosted on The Barlavington Estate and the Natural Capital from which the Estate is formed.

Ecosystem Services are described as the benefits people and society get from the natural environment. They are split into four categories, Supporting, Provisioning, Regulating and Cultural.

Supporting Services are functions provided by ecosystems that underpin all of the other services. These comprise soil formation, primary production, nutrient cycling, water cycling and biodiversity.

Provisioning Services are products of ecosystems such as water, food and the supply of raw materials. These comprise water supply, food production, timber, energy and genetic diversity.

Regulating Services are the results of natural processes such as water purification and air quality. These comprise air quality, climate and carbon storage, water flow and flood attenuation, erosion prevention, soil and water quality, disease and pest mitigation and management and pollination.

Cultural Services a ‘non-material’ benefits that result from our interaction with the natural environment. These comprise recreation and tourism opportunities, cultural heritage values, tranquillity and inspirational and spiritual values deriving from experience of and engagement with nature.

Ecosystem services are a function of the combination of natural capital and inputs, in terms of activity, intervention and operations making use of natural assets by people.

The Estate’s stewardship of and investment in Natural Capital generates a broad range of Supporting, Provisioning, Regulating and Cultural Ecosystem Services. These include positive management and enhancement of habitat, biodiversity, soil and water quality.

It also generates benefits and positive outcomes for people who live in hamlets, villages and towns nearby, those that visit, and those that derive enjoyment from access to and the intrinsic beauty of the countryside and its cultural links.

Those involved in the management of the Estate, its farms and its property work hard to consider the impact on ecosystem services of both day to day decisions and longer-term investments.

The table below sets out the way in which The Barlavington Estate generates and contributes to Ecosystem Services.

Supporting Services

Ecosystem ServiceInputsOutputs and outcomes
Soil formationOrganic dairy farming and natural grazing; retention of woodland cover; minimum cultivation techniques; soil loss management, including natural flood management; support for tenants wishing to enter agri-environment schemes.Creation of new organic matter.
Primary productionOrganic dairy farming and natural grazing; retention of woodland cover; minimum cultivation techniques, no use of pesticides, natural management of weeds.Food web for higher consumers; insects, invertebrates etc.
Nutrient cyclingUse of organic natural fertilisers from dairy cattle and youngstock.Nutrient rich grassland but limited run off to water courses.
Water cyclingHarness extensive spring water resource for use in farming systems.Natural recycling of spring water into aquifer and downstream catchments.
BiodiversityHeathland creation and maintenance, minimal mechanical intervention in woodlands, coppicing, removal of unsuitable species, organic and mixed farming practices. Supporting conservation grazing on relict chalk grassland and lowland grazing including species rich flood meadows; re-established orchard of endangered Sussex apple varieties and grazing of orchard to preserve biodiversity of old orchard trees.Wide range of priority habitats. Extensive invertebrate, butterfly and moth populations, diverse flora including rare species such as Red tipped Cudweed.

Provisioning Services

Ecosystem ServiceInputsOutputs and outcomes
Water supplyHarness available spring supplies. Maintenance of water courses and bodies via fencing out stock, maintenance of water meadows and organic farming methods to prevent nutrient and pesticide run off.Clean water run off to rivers and into the chalk aquifer.
Food productionOrganic and mixed farming systems; active deer management and controlled shooting. Fish farming; re-established orchard of endangered Sussex apple varieties.Dairy, meat, cereals, venison and game, fish and apples.
TimberActive management of woodlands, coppicing and sustainable felling cycle.Nutrient rich grassland but limited run off to water courses.
EnergyActive management of woodlands, coppicing and sustainable felling cycle. Water source heat pump in Duncton Mill House, Air source heat pump in Estate Office, ground source heat pump at Barlavington Yard in prep; two roof mounted solar PV arrays total capacity 100kwp.Woodchip supplied to Kent CHP plant and use of log burning stoves in Estate houses; hot water and space heating from heat pumps; electricity from PV.
Genetic diversityProfessional management of organic dairy and mixed farming systems. Positive management of diverse habitats including grassland, river meadows, heath and woodlands of various kinds (lowland, coppiced, hangar).Wide range of priority habitats across the Estate.

Regulating Services

Ecosystem ServiceInputsOutputs and outcomes
Air qualityMaintenance and sensitive management of 400 hectares of woodland, grassland farming systems, use of natural fuels to supplement heating in Estate houses.High air purification capacity across Estate (see SDNPA air purification map)
Climate and carbon storageMaintenance and sensitive management of 400 hectares of woodland, grassland and organic farming systems,Incidence of high carbon capacity across Estate (see SDNPA Carbon Storage map). carbon audit?
Water flow and floodGrassland farming system, active management of water courses by fencing out stock, maintenance of water meadows, capture of spring water into mill ponds and lakes.Natural flood management on south bank of River Rother and the west bank of River Arun at Watersfield.
ErosionMaintenance of woodland on scarp slopes and minimal till farming systems.????
Soil qualityOrganic dairy farming and natural grazing, use of organic matter for fertiliser; retention of woodland cover; minimum cultivation techniques.High organic matter in soils and retention in areas of greensand.
Water qualityGrassland farming system, active management of water courses by fencing out stock, maintenance of water meadows, use of natural spring supplies.High incidence of water purification capacity across Estate (see SDNPA Water Purification map)
Disease and pestsMaintenance and stewardship of diverse habitats.Regulates pests and disease by supporting a range of predators and parasites (birds, bats, flies, wasps, frogs and fungi).
PollinationMaintenance and stewardship of diverse habitats.Enables pollination by providing a stock of insects, bees and birds.


Cultural Services

Ecosystem ServiceInputsOutputs and outcomes
Recreation and tourismProvision of open access to Lord’s Piece & Sutton Common, maintenance of Rights of Way including two county ways, permissive paths. Support for Forest Schools programme. Tourism/ recreation activities on Estate include fishing, weddings (site and catering), orienteering, camping (longstanding church summer camp and camping diversification in prep), local food focussed educational events (in prep) and horse livery.Access to accessible countryside for local residents and visitors; enhance physical and mental well-being, bring children close to nature.
Cultural heritage valuesMaintain and provide access to the “Cuckoo Tree”, maintain heritage assets and listed buildings, sensitive management of important landscape features and access to key viewpoints, maintenance of PROW network.Retain links between physical and cultural heritage values and enable access for people to enjoy.
TranquillityMaintenance of extensive woodland cover, sensitive management of woodlands, heathland and farmland and properties to retain mixed landscape, hidden places and feeling of seclusion.Sense of ‘escape’ and tranquillity across Estate area, very limited evidence of post war development.
Inspiration and spiritual valuesSensitive management of woodlands, heathland and farmland and setting of Barlavington Church to connectivity between people and landscape.Creation of spaces for contemplation, hidden places and feeling of seclusion.

In addition to Cultural Ecosystem Services the Estate generates significant social and economic outcomes that have a positive impact on the local community and the area’s economy. These have been rehearsed in detail above and include;

  • provision of homes
  • provision of farms
  • provision of workspace
  • extensive public access
  • volunteering opportunities
  • resources for special interest and community groups
  • resources for local schools and visiting youth groups
  • tangible support for local organisations

Beyond the provision of homes and business premises outlined above the Estate makes other contributions to local social and economic well-being through the provision of allotments at Coldwaltham, permissive public access at Crouch Farm and local access agreements (with the Parish Council) at Coldwaltham and Watersfield with the potential for more alongside the Chingford Pond Local Nature Reserve, the creation of the first ‘demonstration woodland’ in the UK at Lodge Copse, the donation of building materials (such as those recently provided to Fittleworth Community Shop) and regular support and gifts to local charities and groups. Examples include providing a site for the Brighthelm Church Camp for the last 30 years and hosting Sussex Search and Rescue training.

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