Farming in Protected Landscapes: Indicative Projects - Kent Downs Skip to main content

We've outlined ideas for indicative, and non-prescriptive, projects which would support the vision, aims and principles of the Management Plan 2021-2026

Indicative Projects

The ideas below are indicative projects which would support the vision, aims and principles of the Management Plan 2021-2026*. They are not intended to be prescriptive.

Please note that examples of the type of activity that might be funded in one area may easily be more widely applicable.

Please  Contact Us to discuss your ideas and your application before you apply.

1.     Dramatic landform and views, a distinctive landscape character 

  • As part of route enhancements for improved access views are carefully opened to a dry valley and a rest point created. Within the valley, infield and landscape trees lost to ash dieback are replaced and a woodland shaw is restored with carefully chosen native species, a modern barn which detracts from the view is screened with native trees and an isolated area of chalk grassland on the valley side is brought into management and extended on nutrient poor soils.
  • A network of derelict historic hedges is restored using Plant Healthy standard native whips.
  • A landscape action plan for a cluster of farms is developed in year 1 of a 3-year grant programme, years 2 and 3 implement the landscape, nature, and access enhancements; project proposals link to the actions described in the Kent Downs AONB Landscape Character Assessment and landscape design guide.

 Landform and landscape character in the Management Plan 

2.     Biodiversity rich habitats

  • The management of a chalk grassland or woodland site is enhanced for a distinctive orchid, butterfly or moth species for which the Kent Downs is an important area.
  • Chalk grassland sites are restored, extended and connected, a collaborative grazing scheme for small, disparate sites is initiated, and necessary grazing infrastructure is installed.
  • Chalk stream habitat management is agreed and delivered in a 3-year scheme across a farm cluster.
  • A community owned traditional orchard has new historic varieties of fruit tree planted (plant healthy standard) a stile to the orchard is replaced by an easy access gate and infrastructure is provided for access to all as well as seasonal grazing.
  • A management committee for a historic common, works with the community to reduce tree cover, enhance heathland, extends fenceless grazing and provide new walks.
  • A Country Park enhances the biodiversity of its meadows and improves access for all to a viewpoint.
  • A farmer introduces arable wildflowers on an area of low nutrient soils from a nearby natural site.
  • A new access route is created to encourage visitors to reduce damage to a site where ground nesting birds are disturbed on farmland.
  • Accessible nature rich sites are created or enhanced near an urban community and connected to existing sites. 

Biodiversity in the Management Plan 

3.     The farmed landscape

  • In an area of intensive arable agriculture, a plan is produced to restore lost landscape features, adopt more climate friendly approaches and to increase the resilience of the farm business. Elements of the plan appropriate for FiPL funding are implemented in yr 2 and 3, the quality of the soils, landscape and nature value of the area is enhanced.
  • Support and advice is given to aid the transition to regenerative agriculture for a group of farmers.
  • Equipment is purchased which will reduce farm greenhouse gas emissions and reduce the need for chemical inputs.
  • A vineyard or commercial orchard increases the diversity of the sward through the introduction of grazing or local wild plants suitable for pollinators and a new mowing regime.
  • Advice and support is given to enhance soil carbon on an arable farm.
  • A cluster group is supported to develop a landscape plan which improves the viability of their businesses, restores a mixed farm landscape and allows diversification to sustainable tourism enterprises and access.
  • Infrastructure to support mob gazing for a beef herd is provided to increase soil carbon and biodiversity.
  • A series of farm walks across a cluster of farms provides new access opportunities, links to the rights of way network and interprets farming and the natural and historic features encountered enroute. Engagement with representatives of underrepresented audiences in nearby cities leads to a project in which people can overcome barriers to access and engagement in the AONB and a programme of activities is devised and delivered to increase confidence to explore the landscape, including guided events.
  • A network of neutral or chalk grassland is restored, using species rich donor sites to spread green hay on recipient meadows close-by.
  • A local food group is supported with developing a brand which promotes the links between products and the landscape.

Farmed Landscape in the Management Plan 

4.     Woodlands and Trees

  • Two isolated areas of woodland are linked by a fenced area which allows for natural woodland regeneration.
  • Development of an Oak Processionary Moth management plan on ancient oaks in a parkland is completed and implemented. Local people are trained to monitor veteran trees in a nearby area of ancient woodland.
  • A management plan and management interventions are funded to significantly reduce the pressure of game birds across the woodlands of an estate or group of farms; a more natural, high nature and commercial value approach is established.
  • Concerted, evidence-based deer management is delivered across a network of woodlands to enhance woodland regeneration and the ground flora of ancient woodlands.
  • Non-native trees and shrubs are removed from a community owned ancient woodland.
  • A year-long traineeship is provided, working alongside a local skilled coppice worker, with associated certification provided.
  • A landscape plan is prepared for an estate, series of farms or landscape character area to re-establish trees outside woodlands, a planting scheme is delivered using Plant Healthy stock.
  • Open habitat creation is funded in a woodland.
  • A farm woodland business plan and new woodland management equipment is funded.

Woodland and Trees in the Management Plan 

5.     A rich legacy of historic, cultural and scientific heritage

  • A limekiln close to a right of way is consolidated and interpreted; a local archaeology group undertakes a study of a site through a community archaeology project and interprets the location’s historic significance.
  • A bronze age barrow is protected from motorcycle damage and a management regime is established.
  • Second World War remains on a farm are stabilised, interpreted and a multi-user route is made to explore and understand them. A plan is developed for long-term management.
  • Artistic interventions are used to help new audiences understand and enjoy the landscape and history of the Kent Downs.
  • Restoration of heritage features under threat is supported.
  • Landowners work together to discover more about earthworks, ancient boundaries and trackways on their land, developing a landscape wide understanding of past land-uses and stories, a conservation plan is implemented.
  • The heritage of pilgrimage is celebrated through farms along the Pilgrims Way, North Downs Way and churches, and routes enhancements – linked to local tourism access.

Historic, Cultural and Scientific Heritage in the Management Plan

6.     The Heritage Coasts

  • New routes are created to divert visitors away from sensitive habitats and provide a better experience.
  • Areas of abandoned cliff top grassland are brought into management and natural grassland and scrub habitats are expanded.
  • Landscape enhancement projects mitigate or remove visual detractors and screen discordant development.
  • A group of Heritage Coast / England Coast Path wardens is established, volunteer events to safely remove plastic pollution from farmed land and the beaches of the Heritage Coasts are supported.
  • The reintroduction of species distinctive to the coast is supported.

The Heritage Coasts in the Management Plan

7.     Geology and natural resources

  • Nature based solutions to mitigating and adapting to climate change for the farming and land management community are supported.
  • Land management plans and investments that enhance the water environment of the Kent Downs are supported, for instance land management which aids aquifer recharge and enhances wildlife (such as establishment of permanent chalk grassland) hedge and woodland establishment to reduce erosion and sediment flows.
  • Woodland and tree establishment is supported on farms in the mid Kent Downs to benefit nearby air quality.
  • Geodiversity trails and management of important geological sites is developed by a series of farmers and land managers across the Kent Downs creating a better understanding of geodiversity and its links to biodiversity and landscape for visitors.
  • A catchment partnership works with a farm cluster to develop a series of natural flood management measures which also support landscape character in a flood prone river valley in the Kent Downs.
  • Natural capital baselines and investment plans are developed for farm clusters.
  • Landscape-led approaches that mitigate low flows in a chalk stream are implemented.

Geology and Natural Resources in the Management Plan

8.     Tranquillity and remoteness

  • Relative tranquillity, remoteness including the conservation and enhancement of dark night skies are cross cutting themes and all Farming in Protected Landscapes projects should seek to support and enable sustainable access to these important characteristics.
  • A project to understand and measure the different perceptions of tranquillity within the Kent Downs by communities and visitors is implemented.

Tranquillity and Remotesness in the Management Plan (see pgs 6-8)

9.     Vibrant communities

  • A project engaging with local care homes reconnects elderly people with their landscape through short walks and sensory activities in nature – back at the care home they are supported to grow on plug plants for hay meadow restoration; engagement with a group supporting visually impaired people leads to a programme of engagement activities introducing groups to countryside walking.
  • A village churchyard group alter mowing regimes to allow wildflowers to flourish; swift nesting habitat is enhanced, the swift population increases because of the increase in insects.
  • Covid recovery walks and mindfulness activities are offered by a farm business for key and NHS workers and those recovering from long Covid.
  • Farmers diversify to create new habitats which become destinations for green prescribing and forest schools.
  • Parish Councils develop parish landscape enhancement plans and costed delivery programmes in partnership with the community and farmers and land managers, a volunteer group is established to take forward some of the conservation work.
  • A farmer works with a village group to develop a community trail that helps to dissipate visitor pressure and celebrates their local landscape.

Vibrant Communities in the Management Plan

10.  Access, Enjoyment and Understanding  

  • A pop-up camping facility is supported on a farm, alongside the provision of new walking trails and on-site activities, including stargazing and dawn chorus walks.
  • Facilities are provided in country parks and other sites to enable the profoundly disabled to enjoy experiences in nature.
  • Outreach workers are supported in urban communities to support new access opportunities to the landscape.
  • Sections of the North Downs Way are enhanced for access, high quality connections are provided from railway stations and to areas of interest and local sustainable tourism businesses.
  • Support for a group of landowners to develop a new farm walks and ride scheme for visitors and to support the local economy.
  • Key sections of Public Rights of Way are upgraded to bridleway status to allow access routes for all; hedges are planted to overcome inappropriate ‘desire line’ access which has caused concern to a farm enterprise alternative routes are created or enhanced.
  • Walker, cyclist and riders facilities installed at local farm shop.
  • A group of landowners working together to reduce illegal and damaging access through measures such as ‘target hardening’, education and information gathering.

Access, Enjoyment, and Understanding in the Management Plan

*The Kent Downs AONB Management Plan

Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme projects will be expected to deliver against the vision, relevant aims, and principles of the Kent Downs AONB Management Plan 2021-2026.

The Kent Downs AONB Management Plan is a strongly evidence-based document which has been subject to wide ranging engagement and consultation, it forms the strategic basis for the conservation and enhancement of the area. The Kent Downs AONB Management Plan is broken down into a number of components, characteristics and qualities of the landscape as well as supporting quality of life, these components strongly support the People, Place, Climate and Nature outcomes that the Farming in Protected Landscapes Programme seeks to secure.

The special components, characteristics, and qualities of the Kent Downs AONB are as follows, you’ll find a summary of each of these in Section 1 of the Kent Downs AONB Management Plan:

  • Dramatic landform and views, a distinctive landscape character
  • Biodiversity rich habitats
  • The farmed landscape
  • Woodlands and Trees
  • A rich legacy of historic, cultural, and scientific heritage
  • The Heritage Coasts
  • Geology and natural resources
  • Tranquillity and remoteness
  • Vibrant communities
  • Access enjoyment and understanding