Sussex Wildlife Trust is launching an appeal to raise £50,000 to buy eight acres of land at Ditchling Beacon and restore it to chalk grassland.
The land sits adjacent to the north west corner of its 52 acre nature reserve, and the area has been designated a site of special scientific interest (SSSI), home to many threatened downland species including orchids, skylarks and butterflies.
The trust says: “Since the 1940s, this precious habitat [chalk grassland] has diminished in Britain and, if you are able to help, we need to make the most of this opportunity.
“We plan to graze the whole reserve with our own Herdwick sheep and British white cattle, which are very effective at keeping encroaching scrub at bay, enabling fragile species to thrive.”
It says the land could be used to install a water supply, and in turn this means the whole nature reserve could be fenced and turned into one grazing reserve.
This would make it of strategic importance for its entire conservation grazing programme, as it would provide a sheltered spot for livestock during winter and bad weather.
The £50,000 would also cover the installation of gates, allowing the public to wander freely over the reserve.