Wild flower day proves a success

Volunteers planting wild cowslip and primrose plants on Steyning Downland Scheme. Picture: Matthew Thomas
Volunteers planting wild cowslip and primrose plants on Steyning Downland Scheme. Picture: Matthew Thomas
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Volunteers from Steyning Downland Scheme joined forces with volunteer rangers from the South Downs National Park to plant 1,500 wild cowslip and primrose plants.

The wild flower planting day on the Steyning downland involved around 35 volunteers from the scheme.

The partnership hopes to lure the very rare Duke of Burgundy Fritillary back to Steyning. Picture: Matthew Thomas

The partnership hopes to lure the very rare Duke of Burgundy Fritillary back to Steyning. Picture: Matthew Thomas

The flowers had been grown from seed by the volunteers as part of the Dukes of Steyning project, which is a partnership between the Steyning Downland Scheme, the national park and Butterfly Conservation South East, with support from Wakehurst Place, Kew and funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Cowslip and primrose are the only food plants of the very rare Duke of Burgundy Fritillary, which the partnership hopes to lure back to Steyning.

The Duke of Burgundy butterfly is one of the most rapidly declining and threatened species of butterfly in the UK.

The butterfly recently reappeared at Washington Chalk Pits, less than 4km to the west of the Steyning downland, after many years of absence.

Sarah Quantrill, community volunteering officer for the Dukes project, said: “The planting day was the finale of over a years’ work for the volunteers – learning how to harvest local, wild seed, propagate it and now using the plants to enhance this habitat.

“We are really thrilled with the results so far – a huge thank you to all the volunteers for all they’ve done.”

The volunteers are now keeping the plants watered until the weather changes.

The team is also working with volunteers to monitor all the butterflies which can be found on the scheme.

To volunteer for the Steyning Downland Scheme, contact Matthew Thomas, project manager, by emailing SDS@Wistonestate.co.uk.

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