The Estate's three farms' environment plans create maintain or restore many different kinds of habitat for wildlife. For example - Winter food for birds; nesting sites; cover to protect fledglings of ground-nesting birds from predators; flowery margins for pollinators; scrub clearance for chalk grassland restoration.
Grey partridges or lapwing like our patchwork farmland habitat, where chicks can be raised on tussocky or open short grassland or fallow, yet move into nearby arable crops for cover from predators or to eat arable wildflower seeds and insects.
The Mountain woodland is being managed as a habitat for conservation. After the 1987 hurricane it regrew densely with sycamore seedlings leaving little habitat for wildlife. The Estate has since 2005 been clearing rides and glades for wild flowers butterflies and birds, and planting a traditional coppice system with hazel and other mixed native species under the beech and ash standards.
All the downland dewponds in Sompting, fed by rains and mists, dried up during the latter half of the twentieth century, generally through lack of maintenance as water came to be provided cheaply (then) from the new mains supply, for which the Estate installed an extensive network in the early 1960s, and as livestock grazing dwindled with the increase in winter wheat production. These ponds had however been valuable not only for livestock, but also for wild birds mammals and insects.
In the 1980s the Sompting Estate began a program of restoring these with the Tenants Hill and Lychpole Hill (Cradle Hill) dewponds. In the 1990s a new seasonal pond was created by a bund.
In 2009 the dewpond at the Downs Barn was restored with help from the South Downs Society. In 2011 Lychpole Farm restored the beautiful large dewpond near Cissbury at Stump Bottom, near where the Romano-British settlement was up to the 4th century (did they first make the pond there?). In 2013 we cleared all the silt and fly tipping out of the pond at the old Dankton Barn site.
In 2014 we restored the dewpond at Lychpole bottom. Ponds are easier to make and maintain in the coastal plain where some are fed by springs from the chalk. In that area Sompting has its own Knucker Hole, a bottomless pond inhabited by a Saxon dragon. And in 2020 in collaboration with the Ouse & Adur Rivers Trust we restored several more ponds to add to the habitat provided by our new EPIC Project stream course.
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