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Nature initiatives at Buckland Estate

This article summarises work being carried out at Buckland Estate towards conserving and improving our beautiful natural environment.

While our arable operation remains an important business for us, the days of all-out intensive farming are long gone. Approximately 160 hectares (400 acres) of land remain in arable cultivation, managed principally with Edward Ford. However, as the Government phases out the basic payment scheme – which subsidised farmers purely by reference to the amount of land they farmed – we have taken advantage of a number of Countryside Stewardship Programmes.

We have three Countryside Stewardship Programmes in place. The largest covers much of the land subject to the estate’s agreement with Edward, plus pasture grazed by the Muggeridge and Budd families. We have a further scheme covering land at Walton Oaks. Lastly, in 2023, we entered into a forestry management plan.

The first programme is a five year arrangement which started in 2021 with the following components:

The five year forestry management plan (100ha) mostly relates to woodland but also affects fringes of the chalk grassland on the North Downs. We enjoy forestry but experience shows that it tends to be easier to plant trees than to look after them. We are also keen hedge planters and usually plant 2000 to 4000 thorns a year. The main features of our forestry management plan comprise maintaining rides and open spaces, retaining deadwood, coppicing and thinning, mapping and preserving veteran trees, deer control and squirrel control.

At Buckland Park Lake, we operate a Land & Ecology Management Plan, a five year programme which started in November 2020 aimed at preserving and protecting nature in the park. It has quite a few elements but includes the cultivation of three wildflower patches and protection of the sand cliff faces. We are also seeking to preserve the areas of unenriched grassland by keeping the scrub under control without disturbing insects and other wildlife. We have undertaken quite a few nature studies with a variety of partners. If anyone is interested in joining in, they are welcome to use this contact form to get in touch with the estate office.

There are plenty of further initiatives for the future. For example, we are now looking to clear the fringes of clearings on the North Downs to preserve the chalk grasslands

We think the measures we have taken have already benefited a variety of flora and fauna, but there is still plenty to do!

Dominic Sanders
Last updated March 2024