A Space for Nature

The success of the farmer led group the Marlborough Downs Nature Improvement Area (MDNIA) has been recognised by Natural England. Based on the footprint of the MDNIA project developed and directed by Dr Jemma Batten of Black Sheep Countryside Management, Natural England announced they will be offering funding to similar conservation partnerships via the new national Countryside Stewardship Scheme Facilitation Fund. This awards grants to advisers to work with groups of farmers (min 4, min area 2,000 ha) to deliver biodiversity objectives on a landscape scale.

Following a submission by Dr Jemma Batten the renamed group – the Marlborough Downs Nature Enhancement Partnership (MDNEP) has been awarded £24,000 a year across five years to build upon the success of the pilot project, which will be named Space for Nature and will launch in October 2015.

Since it was founded in 2012, the Marlborough Downs group has implemented numerous wildlife and conservation projects across 10,370 hectares of chalk down land on 35 farms between Avebury, Marlborough and Swindon.

Outlined objectives of Space for Nature include; development of best practice in management of grassland, woodland and ponds, creation of wildlife corridors, provision of food and safe nesting habitat for farmland birds and other farm wildlife, development of a volunteer scheme delivering practical conservation management.

A series of short films have been created to celebrate and demonstrate the impact of the pilot project on nature, conservation and in the community.
Jemma Batten said; “I’m thrilled that the project I designed back in 2011 for the Marlborough Downs farmers has been judged to be such a success that the Government has decided to roll it out nationally. I can’t wait to get stuck into another five years of making space for nature along with the farmers and local communities on the Marlborough Downs.”

Chris Musgrave, farmer; “What this project has done is bring people together because it’s something we can all believe in. At the end of three years we’ve far exceeded everybody’s expectations and there’s a natural momentum to want to keep it going.”
For more information visit www.mdnia.org.uk Facebook – The Marlborough Downs – A space for nature