Ballard Down is an area of chalk downland in Dorset, southern England. The down forms a headland between Studland and Swanage bays in the English Channel, and once formed part of a continuous chalk ridge between what are now west Dorset and the Isle of Wight, part of the Southern England Chalk Formation. The scarp slope of the down faces south, over Swanage, intersecting with the sea as Ballard Cliff. The down was an area of calcareous grassland for up to 1,000 years until World War II, when there was a sudden rise in the need for arable agricultural land. Since then the need for agricultural land has declined and the down, now owned by the National Trust, has largely been returned to grassland. The National Trust allows grazing on the down in order to prevent it becoming the natural oak woodland climax community.