South Downs Land Managers
We are the voice of the land management community to the South Downs National Park Authority.
South Downs Land Managers is an independent association of people involved with the land in the South Downs National Park: local farmers foresters and landowners, and the employees agents and professionals who work with them. NFU and CLA are our principal partner organisations.
The land in the South Downs is owned and cared for by many different private individuals and businesses, and a few larger organisations and public bodies.
South Downs Land Managers' purpose is to try to ensure that the National Park Authority achieves the best possible National Park for those who created, own and manage our working landscape.
The Park Authority has two Purposes:
1. to "conserve and enhance natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage"
2. to "promote understanding and enjoyment of the Park's special qualities".
It also has a Duty to "foster the social and economic well being of the local communities".
What Land Managers Do
South Downs Land Managers aims to make sure the National Park is a place where land managers can succeed in their businesses and continue to look after the South Downs.
Farmers and landowners are proud that our predecessors shaped our landscape, making it productive and at the same time beautiful. We continue to shape that landscape and to bring our own ideas to it. It's our job to know what can best be done with each part of our own land today.
Farm businesses continually adapt like any other business to live on the profits they can make. At the same time we are also uniquely able to deliver environmental benefits as we look after the environment and landscape. Agri-environment payments and grants enable us to do more of this. These payments for 'ecosystem services' are needed because in a global free market, the cost of looking after the countryside is not, or not sufficiently, included in the prices land managers are paid for our products such as food and timber.
The purpose of South Downs Land Managers is to ensure that rural business of all kinds can prosper in the Park.
A strong woodland industry creates jobs and business opportunities that add significantly to the local economy. The South Downs National Park has more woods than any other National Park in England; more than one-fifth of the area of the Park is wooded. Woodland needs to be managed both because timber and woodfuel are renewable resources, and in order to support wildlife habitats.
There is a diverse mix in the Downs including highly productive commercial woodland, steep sided hangars and ancient semi-natural woodland, and many small traditional coppices. We include among our members both farmers who also manage some woodland, and, forestry specialists such as local businesses or contractors that work within woodland, small woodland owners or large commercial forestry businesses.
The South Downs National Park is unique as an English National Park in having such an extensive area of land in the ownership of country Estates. At least 30% of the area designated National Park is owned by Estates in single ownership by families who have, in many cases, held the land in continuous ownership for centuries. The continuity of management of these parts of the NP helps to define the landscape.
The critical mass of a rural Estate, and the resources it can access, enables great diversity. In the Downs, the country Estates have built Mansion Houses, Estate houses and cottages (and in some cases villages), Walled Gardens, industrial buildings (including water mills, farm buildings and windmills), Churches, schools and Parish Halls. They have designed and created parkland landscapes and planted extensive areas of woodland. The contribution by the Estates to the economy of the South Downs remains strong today, now also building diversified businesses which add to the quality of visitor experience.
South Downs Land Managers advises and influences the policies of the National Park so as to support these Estates as well as individual land management businesses. The policies need to be created and implemented in such a way that Estates can continue to manage their landscape as they have in the past, and to meet the needs of local communities - which ultimately benefits the National Park and its landscape.
Our members also include professionals whose business it is to support, advise and supply the land management community: land agents, agronomists, contractors, consultants, and officers of our major partner trade associations such as the National Farmers Union and the Country Land and Business Association.
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If you would like to join SDLM, then send us an email with your contact details including name and telephone number.