Part of South Downs in UNESCO linked biosphere plan

At the moment, Ditchling falls just outside the draft map for the Biosphere reserve.
At the moment, Ditchling falls just outside the draft map for the Biosphere reserve.

Brighton and part of the South Downs National Park could be designated as a ‘Biosphere Reserve’ by UNESCO.

Brighton, Hove, Lewes, Plumpton, Clayton, Pyecombe and Poynings are included in a draft area covering 340 square kilometres that could be recognised as a site of international excellence for nature conservation and sustainable development.

Status for the reserve would be granted by UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The idea of a reserve is being promoted by the ‘Biosphere Partnership’ in a ‘Here,Here’ campaign, which involves a number of organisations, including Mid Sussex District Council and the National Trust.

Chris Todd, who chairs the Partnership, said: “This would open up opportunities to seek funding for projects which improve the environment. It would help raise awareness, boost civic pride and strengthen the local economy.”

Although Ditchling and villages close to the South Downs, such as Hurstpierpoint and Hassocks, lie outside the proposed boundary, Chris says: “If they want to be part of it that could change. We’re open to consultation and this is meant to be a co-operative, voluntary project.”

The proposed reserve, which is about the size of the Isle of Wight, extends out to sea and includes the majority of the South Downs National Park.

You can see a map at: biosphere

There is also a questionnaire to fill in on the website as part of a three-month public consultation process.

Mid Sussex residents can find out more about the project by joining a guided walk at Saddlescombe Farm, near Devil’s Dyke, this Sunday, guided by the National Trust.

Called ‘3,000 years in 3 hours’, the walk will explore the 1,000-year history of the farm, with its many old buildings as well as the story of the surrounding downland landscape.

Chris said: “For people, who can’t make the walk, we have roadshow events at Devil’s Dyke Inn and Adastra Hall in Hassocks during March and April. So I would urge people to make the effort and find out more about this exciting project.”

The free events will be held at: Devil’s Dyke Inn on March 17 (10am to 2pm) and Adastra Hall, Hassocks on April 5 (11am – 4.30pm).

This Sunday’s guided walk at Saddlescombe Farm costs £3 and starts at 10am. Please meet at the farm. Please do not park in the farm, which is located at: BN45 7DE

More Information on the walk can be obtained from Graham Wellfare on 01273 857712