Wiltshire Chalk Country
Wiltshire Chalk Country
This landscape has been shaped by farming, ancient civilisations and military training. It is dotted with Stone Age barrows offering panoramic views. At its heart lies Stonehenge, the internationally renowned World Heritage Site.
Covered with rolling fields of corn and expanses of chalk grassland, this is a land of hares, lapwings and the rare stone-curlew. The downland comes alive in summer, when skylarks sing, flowers bloom and butterflies emerge.
We’re working with partners, land owners and communities to protect and enhance the landscape. Together we’re ensuring there’s a network of chalk grassland sites which people can enjoy and which support the iconic wildlife and the archaeological heritage of the Chalk Country.
Reserves and other protected areas are a key part of Futurescapes. They provide core areas for nature to thrive and eventually repopulate the surrounding landscapes. The key RSPB reserves within this Futurescape are:
At Winterbourne Downs we're recreating species-rich chalk grassland. The reserve will form an important link between the extensive grasslands of Salisbury Plain and Porton Down. Wander through the grassland in summer and you will be greeted by the wealth of colourful flowers and the gentle buzz of insects.
Our other sites
In addition to Winterbourne Downs we also manage two other sites in Wiltshire Chalk Country: Suddern Hill on the fringes of Porton Down and Normanton Down, within the Stonehenge World Heritage Site. These sites have no public access as they are on MOD or private land holdings. However guided tours of Normanton Down are run each year. Please get in touch for more information.
We're working to safeguard and improve special places for nature. Each Futurescape contains a range of initiatives in addition to our reserves. The combination of these creates better conditions for wildlife across the countryside.
The stone-curlew is one of the rarest birds in the UK. An 85% decline in both range and numbers from the 1930s left the population at around 150 pairs in the 1980s. These were concentrated in two core areas – Wessex and the Norfolk and Suffolk Brecklands. Conservation efforts have resulted in the population increasing to nearly 400 pairs by 2011.
The North Wessex Downs are an important area for farmland birds, holding key populations of nationally declining species. They're also an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, part of the South West Farmland Bird Initiative, our Chalk Country Futurescape and the Stone-curlew Recovery Project Area. This project works closely with farmers and advisors, providing advice and support to enable habitat creation and management to support the conservation of our top ten declining farmland birds.
Henry narrowly beat the three other fantastic finalists with his organic farm in Wiltshire which hosts an array of rare birds, bumblebees, moths and butterflies.
Futurescapes is all about collaboration. There are many organisations and people involved in managing land in Wiltshire Chalk Country. Our challenge is working together to find ways of making more space for nature. To achieve this we’re working with:
- Butterfly Conservation
- Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs AONB
- Defence Estates
- Defence Science and Technology Laboratory
- English Heritage
- Game & Wildlife Conservation Trust
- Great Bustard Group
- National Trust
- Natural England
- North Wessex Downs AONB
- Stonehenge and Avebury World Heritage Site
- Wessex Water
- Wiltshire Council
- Wiltshire Wildlife Trust
Saving special places
Curlews in crisis: one year on
For this year’s World Curlew Day, Thursday 21st April 2022, amongst the enjoyment of this beautiful yet gravely threatened bird, comes an update on the ambitious conservation delivery project, Curlews in crisis (Curlew LIFE). The project is app...(re...Posted 21/04/2022 by Vanessa Amaral-Rogers
The conservationist's dilemma: an update on the science, policy and practice of the impact of predators on wild birds (8)
As we have written in previous years, the decision to introduce any form of predator control (lethal or non-lethal) is something we never take lightly. It’s always based on evidence and guided by the RSPB’s Council-agreed policy. The RSPB...(read mor...Posted 20/09/2021 by martinfowlie
G7 Commentary - Nature compact success or failure?
For the first time the G7 has made a nature-positive commitment to halt and reverse the loss of biodiversity by 2030. This is unprecedented. Never before we have seen nature prioritised in a way that recognises the importance of a healthy natural wor...Posted 14/06/2021 by Vanessa Amaral-Rogers
A big step for international whale conservation - sei whale Key Biodiversity Area in Falklands
By Michelle Winnard, Communications Officer, Falklands Conservation Sei whale by Caroline Weir, Falklands Conservation In a big step for international whale conservation, the Falkland Islands have been confirmed as a hotspot for a globally end...(re...Posted 12/05/2021 by Heather Mitchell