South Downs National Park given £608,000 to help nature

South Downs National Park
Image caption The South Downs became the UK's newest national park in 2011

A project to safeguard endangered chalk downland in the South Downs National Park has been given a £608,000 boost by the government.

The South Downs Way Ahead project has been named as one of the government's new Nature Improvement Areas.

The money will help protect rare butterflies and improve water quality in the area.

The park authority has teamed up with 26 other organisations across the South Downs to raise £3m for the project.

Margaret Paren, chairwoman of the South Downs National Park Authority, said: "South Downs chalk downland is vital to the survival of rare and endangered wildlife and is relied on by millions of people to provide clean drinking water and valuable green space.

"We are working in partnership with 26 organisations across the National Park to safeguard this precious landscape and encourage people to help secure these benefits for now and future generations."

William Wolmer, a farmer in the South Downs, said: "Farmers and landowners have been managing chalk downland across the South Downs National Park area for centuries, but in today's commercial environment it is essential to support this kind of work with well-targeted funding."

According to the authority, 1.2 million people depend on water filtered through and stored in South Downs chalk downland.

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