Here’s a quick fairy tale for Monday Morning.
Once Upon a Time, Nature was in trouble in the Kingdom, and the King sent for the wise men to tell him what needed to be done to save Nature. The wise men talked together and one came forward, called Lawton, Professor Lawton. The King agreed that Lawton should write a book, about all the things that needed to be done to save Nature in Kingdom. They worked tirelessly night and day for a year, and when they had finished they presented the beautiful book, to the King. “What a Wonderful Book!” said the King, “I shall call it the Lawton Report” and all his courtiers nodded and agreed, that the book was wonderful and would help save Nature in the Kingdom.And so the Lawton Book became revered through the land.
But then the King died, and a cruel Prince took the throne. He said “I am the Greenest Prince there ever was, and I Love Nature”, but in truth he plotted with the barons to steal from Nature, kill the animals and spread dark magic through the land. The Prince hated to even look at the Lawton Book and it was banished from the land. The Lawton book was thrust into a locked chest, in a remote castle and forgotten about. But some people remembered what the Book said, and together, on dark nights, when there were no spies around, they would quietly chant
“Bigger, Better, More Connected; Bigger, Better, More Connected…”
they hoped that by chanting they would bring forward the Spirits of the Wood and the Meadow, the Spring and the Marsh; to stop the cruel Prince from destroying Nature.
Bigger, Better, More Connected
Rampisham Down is big, really big. It’s one of the largest surviving tracts of unimproved lowland acid grassland in England. And that makes it important, because bigger sites support a wider variety of habitats and species – including a number of rare species. But its size isn’t the only thing that’s particularly special about Rampisham, because Rampisham is located in an amazing, one might say unique, landscape in modern lowland England. It’s connected.
This map is generated by MAGIC, the excellent Government website (yes I really did say that). It shows the effectively continuous band of SSSIs stretching from the A35 to the south, 10km north to the A357 Crewkerne road. This is a very large area where nature-rich habitats have survived the onslaught of modern farming to a far greater extent than any other lowland farmland landscape that I know of. There are chalk downlands, there are hay meadows and neutral pastures, there are rush-pastures and fen meadows, ancient woodlands, fens, wood pasture, ancient hedgerows, ponds, scraps of heathland and now, a large area of acid grassland. That is just the SSSIs.
This second map, also generated from MAGIC, shows the SSSIs plus all the additional areas of nature-rich habitat which are not designated, which are totally unprotected from harm, though many are County Wildlife Sites.
I’d like to put out a challenge to you, dear reader – find me another 10km square in lowland England with this much surviving nature-rich landscape, with such a diverse range of habitats.
I’m not promising to reward you with riches beyond your dreams though.