When Robert Holford first designed the arboretum, the Downs were an important aspect of the picturesque vision, allowing the many vistas to come into their own, providing open space.
Unfortunately, for some time the popularity of the arboretum resulted in this historic and beautiful open grassland being used as a car park.
A central aspect of the Westonbirt Project was to restore the Downs back to the Grade 1 landscape it was always meant to be.
Having relocated the visitor car park to an area off the Grade 1 landscape, we have now restored this area to grassland. This area is an important BAP (Biodiversity Action Plan) habitat of both a lowland meadow and lowland calcareous grassland. Since 2014, the arboretum and volunteers have been monitoring the restoration and changes taking place. This area is now teaming with life, increasing in biodiversity year on year. This was always going to be a long term project, but our early success is truly heartening.
In summer 2017, we conducted our first Bioblitz at Westonbirt, the National Arboretum, inviting members of the public and expert wildlife recorders to discover what flora and fauna had come to make this area its home.