On the steepest slopes, chalk grassland is the dominant feature of the middle part of the Darent Valley. It is concentrated along the scarp slope from Kemsing to Eynsford on the eastern side, and Polhill to Shoreham on the western side. There are also some small pockets in the dry valleys to the east of Eynsford at sites such as Magpie Bottom.
Chalk grassland has declined so much over the years that it is an internationally important habitat. It has many designations in place to look after it such Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and Local Wildlife Site. As well as in the Darent Valley it can be found throughout Kent on the valley slopes of the North Downs. Having survived due to their steep slopes and therefore being suitable only for grazing, chalk grassland downs have been an ever-present landscape feature in the Darent Valley for centuries.
Many rare plants thrive on chalk grassland in the valley which include Kentish milkwort, man orchid, musk orchid, dodder, dropwort and juniper. Many sites are also extremely important for invertebrates with at least 24 species of butterfly recorded including dingy skipper, grizzled skipper and dark green fritillary.
DVLPS is working with various landowners and delivery partners to conserve and enhance chalk grassland sites, particular those concentrated in the central stretch of the Darent Valley. Works will include scrub removal, introducing grazing, interpretation and guided walks to engage visitors with the site and their special qualities.