Dunsbury Farm – protecting a butterfly paradise

In October 2015 the National Trust made its largest coastal acquisition in over 20 years. And it was right here on the Isle of Wight.

Dunsbury, made up of 165 hectares of attractive grass downland, arable land and woodland, lies just to the north of the picturesque Trust–owned Brook and Compton Bays. It was purchased with help from the Neptune Coastline Campaign which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015 and has enabled us to safeguard an amazing 574 miles of our British coastline.
 
Our Vision
This farm is a crucial piece of the coastal jigsaw for the National Trust on the Isle of Wight. It means we can plan for the future of a coast which is eroding at a rate of 1.5 metres per year, allowing us to maintain access to this much loved part of the island, and to manage the land in a less intensive way, making it healthy and beautiful for the future.
 
Our plan is to introduce the sort of farming that will set a fine example, by being both productive and good for wildlife. Given time, the farm will also become a place where we can combine people’s enjoyment of walking with butterfly and bird watching. There are stunning views along the chalk cliffs towards the Needles and glimpses of Poole Harbour and Studland in the distance.
 
Working Together for Wildlife
We can only achieve all this if we work with other like-minded people. Together we can take on landscape-scale projects. We will work with Butterfly Conservation to safeguard the future of butterflies, in particular the rare Glanville fritillary. We’ll also develop plans to encourage the return of farmlands birds, improving habitats for linnets, skylarks and yellowhammers. 
 
Farming that will help wildlife
Mixed, un-intensive farming will provide wildlife diversity, with light grazing by sheep and cattle, wide field margins and stubble fields left to provide food for birds. We also hope to combine Dunsbury with our neighbouring farm at Compton to produce a viable unit. Compton Farm already plays an important part in the management of the downs and coast. Our tenant’s herd of Galloway cattle has provided unbroken grazing here since the 1960s. They are one of the reasons why Compton Down is rich in wildlife including 33 types of butterfly and seven types of orchid.