Author Huw Morgan
People and Wildlife Officer (Brighton)
Early autumn has seen the first planting sessions of an exciting project to establish areas of native wild flowers on housing estates around Brighton and Hove. Over the next couple of years thousands of cowslips, scabious, knapweed and harebell amongst others will be planted by volunteers, residents, council staff and the Trust’s Youth Ranger group to improve the biodiversity of urban housing land.
The Sussex Wildlife Trust ‘Youth Rangers’ are a group of young people aged 16-25 who are based in Brighton & Hove. Each week the group learn new skills and enhance job and other volunteering prospects through practical environmental conservation.
£300 would enable us to buy tools for the Youth Rangers group so that they can safely and effectively undertake conservation work. In particular, the money would pay for ten new bow saws for the group.
Brighton & Hove City Council together with the Sussex Wildlife Trust, and other partners successfully bid to become one of the governments Nature Improvement Areas (NIA). Over the summer volunteers have been collecting seed from the best local downland sites such as the Castle Hill National Nature Reserve in Woodingdean. This has then been taken to Stanmer nurseries where volunteers have grown it on into small plants which are now ready to plant out. Working with local residents, suitable areas have been identified such as the Bristol Estate, Craven Vale Estate and Bates Estate and these are now being planted with wild flowers bringing a slice of the Downs into the heart of the city.
These wild flowers should attract a variety of insects including bees and butterflies and events will be organised next summer inviting local groups and schools to explore the areas and record the wildlife they discover. Many of the chalk grassland species used in the NIA project can be found on the Sussex Wildlife Trust reserve at Ditchling Beacon. It's hoped that orchids will be introduced to housing estates.
In addition to providing a pleasant environment this project is also helping to conserve rare plants. Plants have subtle genetic variation across their ranges and growing plants from local seed helps to conserve this local genetic diversity by increasing the places in which they grow.
Find out more about Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Brighton & Hove Community Wildlife Project and sign up for their newsletter here.