We are one of the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s community wildlife projects, however, whereas similar projects focus on one area, we are unique, in that, since 1994, we have been working across some 200 square kilometres of countryside and in the adjacent towns of Reigate, Dorking and Horley, in Surrey and Crawley and Horsham in Sussex, with Gatwick Airport in the middle.
Although today, the local population is concentrated in these towns and local industries are mainly concerned with supporting London Gatwick Airport (and its infrastructure), even as recently as 100 years ago, the population was much smaller and largely working in the rural economy. Remnants of historic land management can still be seen in our hedgerows, woodlands, heathlands, waterways and our urban green spaces.
Our work aims to inform, educate and involve a diverse range of people from the local communities in our beautiful, natural surroundings. We want to see the local landscape more interconnected for wildlife and so we work with local landowners (including the Forestry Commission, the Wildlife Trusts and the Woodland Trust) plus local authorities to support them in managing their land more sustainably and in partnership with others.
We can organise (or advise) on a range of events and activities, including conservation volunteering, landowner advice, guided walks, wildlife encounters, Bushcraft sessions, Forest School sessions, wildlife gardening and we run two “Countryside Ranger” groups for young people in our area who are looking for an introduction to the “conservation industry”.
Currently, the project is staffed by Kevin Lerwill (leading on Conservation Volunteering and Health Walks), Tamara Jewell (leading on Education and Events), Tom Simpson (leading Corporate Volunteering, School grounds advice and Education at Gatwick Airport) and Alexis Pym (Community Engagement Manager).
We work with many individuals, groups & organisations and receive our core funding from the following local authority partners: