Badger Class from Benfield Primary School, Portslade spent a wonderful morning pond dipping at Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Woods Mill nature reserve near Henfield. They were the very first children to use a new dipping platform funded by the South Downs National Park Authority’s Sustainable Communities Fund , Viridor, The Ivo Trust and Upper Beeding Parish Council and were delighted to take part in the Grand Opening – cutting a ribbon before getting down to the exciting business of finding out exactly what wildlife was living in the lake.
Over 2,800 children visit this nature reserve during the year with schools and clubs, plus an additional 1,900 adults and children who attend supervised pond dipping sessions during the school holidays.
Steve Tillman, Reserves Manager said, ‘Four years ago conservation work was carried out on the lake which was deteriorating due to an explosion of carp who were eating all the invertebrates and stirring up the water. The lake was very poor for wildlife so we drained it and over 1,800 carp were removed and rehomed. Now, there are thousands of tadpoles, toads, newts, dragonflies and damselflies and other water insects and the water is clear – a remarkable transformation.
‘The ‘icing on the cake’ is the new dipping platform, vital so children and adults can explore the wealth of wildlife living in the lake. Thanks to the generous donations from our funders we now have a large platform with an anti- slip deck so visitors with mobility needs and larger groups of children can dip their nets into the water safely.’
Joanna Norman, Education Officer for Viridor, one of the UK’s largest recycling and renewable energy companies said, ‘Viridor is delighted to contribute to the new pond dipping platform. We share the Sussex Wildlife Trust’s commitment to education and conservation and hope that this new platform will help the children who use it develop a lifelong love of nature and the environment.’
Doug Jones, Chair of the South Downs National Park Authority’s Sustainable Communities Fund said, ‘It’s great to see these children getting excited about their local wildlife. We know that young people benefit a lot from spending time with nature in the South Downs National Park and experiences like pond dipping can help sow the seeds for a life time of enjoying, understanding and caring for our natural environment.’