Farming, food production and land management have shaped the South Downs over hundreds of years. They help to keep many of the special qualities alive - its landscapes, archaeological features, habitats and species. Past farming practices have made some very important habitats including chalk downland and lowland heath.
Land managers are very important to maintaining the special qualities of the National Park. Many are helping to conserve and improve important habitats through environmental stewardship schemes. Farming is especially important for maintaining and supporting ecosystems services.
Large estates with their designed parklands, have a significant effect on the landscape and the local area. Many of these estates have been in place for a very long time meaning they can take a long term view on land management. This connection between planning and maintenance has lead to a steady and thriving landscape.
Climate change and global markets are likely to have a major impact on farming and land management in the future. Some farmers are changing their businesses by adding tourist accommodation and locally produced food and drink. New enterprises, such as vineyards and wood fuel energy, continue to shape the landscape as the industry adapts to change.