Stepping Stones Project
The Stepping Stones Project was initiated in 2012 by Cranborne Chase AONB, North Wessex Downs AONB and Wiltshire Wildlife Trust working together. We received financial support from Natural England, the government’s nature conservation adviser, of £105,658.41 over three years.
The aims of the project were:
- To connect areas of high quality chalk grassland habitat around Salisbury Plain by creating ‘stepping stones’ between them, allowing animals like butterflies and beetles to successfully colonise new areas.
- To enhance areas adjacent to high quality sites: buffering valuable habitat so that populations of chalk grassland insects and plants can grow.
- To include and involve a large number of local volunteers in growing and planting plug plants to enhance species-poor areas.
We carried out an innovative piece of mapping that showed us where we should prioritise our efforts. We worked with twenty-eight farmers on the Pewsey Downs and West Wiltshire Downs, creating or improving 344 hectares of chalk grassland. The project levered in about £60,000 of cash and in-kind support. Voluntary participants included school children from Pewsey Primary and the Wildlife Trust’s Wellbeing Group.
Recently, the Cranborne Chase AONB has provided £1,500 to the Chilmark Horticultural Society to carry on this work in South Wiltshire. With the help of chalk grassland expert Catherine Hosie and lots of voluntary help, we will use the polytunnel at Manora (thanks to the generosity of Patrick and Jane Middleton) to produce a large number of chalk grassland plants that can be planted out in the spring of 2016.
Stepping Stones Location Map (PDF, 350Kb)