Wildlife & Habitats

The South Downs has many different types of habitats due to the type of land, weather patterns and the way that the land has been managed. These habitats include chalk downland, lowland heath, woodland, wetland and rivers, farmland, coastal and marine. Many rare and important wildlife species live in the South Downs.

Sheep-grazed downland is the main habitat of the chalk landscape. Southdown sheep are a local breed that eat the grass and encourages lots of other species in the area.

The greensand of the Western Weald contains important lowland heath habitats including Woolmer Forest. This is the only site in the British Isles where all our native reptile and amphibian species are found.

West of the River Arun the National Park is more wooded. There are important features such as the ancient yew woodland and the magnificent ‘hanging’ woodlands.

A large percentage of the National Park is farmland. Farmland includes important wildlife habitats such as hedgerows, arable land, semi-natural grassland and dew ponds.

The river valleys that cross the South Downs support wetland habitats and a wealth of birdlife.

Resources Toolbox