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Nature recovery and conservation at Hinton Ampner

Scotch Argus butterflies landing on marjoram
The project will create rich habitats for wildlife | © National Trust Images/Matthew Oates

The Hinton Ampner: Reimagining a Hampshire Estate project will help nature here to recover and thrive, increasing the diversity of plants and animals by providing a variety of wildlife habitats.

We’ll plant trees and hedges and reclaim chalk grasslands. Sustainable farming practices will improve the health of the soil and water and create wild field borders. And we’ll regularly monitor the state of our wildlife, including certain key species.

Creating and protecting habitats

Over the years, the variety and size of wildlife habitats at Hinton Ampner has been drastically reduced, partly due to the impact of commercial farming.

Some habitats have shrunk significantly, while others have become fragmented, meaning they may not be large enough to support the species that rely on them.

We’re taking steps to remedy this.

Reclaiming the land for nature

Following the retirement of our tenant farmer, over 280 hectares of land are now back under the management of the National Trust.

While some of this land will be used for sustainable farming – with its own benefits for nature – the rest will be used to restore and create wildlife habitats.

By 2030, we’ll have established 100,000 new trees at Hinton, mostly native species, many grown from seeds harvested from local trees.

As well as creating new areas of woodland and wood pasture, this will join up existing sections of ancient woodland to create more robust habitats.

In the same way, we’ll restore ancient hedgerows, linking them up again so they can support larger, more sustainable populations, giving them more of a chance to survive and grow.

Other areas of reclaimed farmland will be turned back into chalk grassland, providing habitats for a wide range of plants, insects and birds.

Path through bluebells in beech woodland, Hinton Ampner, Hampshire
Bluebell woods on the Hinton Ampner estate | © Nationa Trust/Simon Newman

Farming for nature

In the areas of Hinton we keep as farmland, regenerative farming techniques will make a huge contribution to improving the estate for wildlife.

We’ll restrict the use of chemical fertilisers on the fields and grow plants and crops that will help improve soil structure. When sewing the fields, we'll disturb the soil with as little tilling as possible.

Together, these measures will help prevent the soil from being washed away and harmful chemicals making their way into the land and river.

Habitat creation

Farmed fields will have wide borders, left wild to create a rich habitat for birds, butterflies and small mammals.

They'll also have areas dedicated to growing plants that will provide food for birds during the winter.

Meanwhile, small groups of native-breed cattle will be reintroduced to graze the open landscape, ensuring suitable habitats for the widest range of species.

A pied flycatcher on a twig
The project will support the return of key species to the estate | © Chris Kelly

Monitoring Hinton’s wildlife

An important part of helping nature to thrive at Hinton is understanding what wildlife is already here and monitoring how this changes.

We’ve now completed an initial survey looking at the different species currently found on the estate and in what numbers.

We’ll carry out further surveys over the coming months and years to track how this changes as new habitats are created and develop.

Our 'top 10' target species

As part of our wildlife monitoring, we’ll be keeping a particular eye on some target species we’ve identified as good indicators of nature recovery.

Many of these are rare, and some are threatened with extinction in the United Kingdom.

Our 'top 10' – plus a few more – include:

  1. White helleborine orchid
  2. Lapwing, a ground-nesting bird
  3. Barbastelle bat
  4. Waxcap fungi
  5. Butterflies like the purple emperor
  6. Wildflowers including the corncockle and pheasant's eye
  7. Farmland birds such as the corn bunting and tree sparrow
  8. Flycatcher, a woodland and parkland bird
  9. Turtle dove, close to extinction in the UK
  10. Harvest mice and dormice

We’re also working in partnership with the Woodmeadow Trust to propagate particular species of ground flowers, which we’ll plant in our new woodlands.

Sunrise over the east coast at Lundy, Devon

Nature conservation

From ancient trees to bees and butterflies, our places are full of life. We're working hard to safeguard nature for years to come.

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