We have an amazing opportunity to extend our Ebernoe Common nature reserve, but we need to act now.
We urgently need to raise £50,000 to secure the future of over 24 hectares of ancient woodland to the north and west of our woodland reserve at Ebernoe Common, near Petworth in West Sussex. Purchase of this woodland would mean that Sussex Wildlife Trust will have direct control over the management of a large area of ancient woodland, ancient wood-pasture and rewilded arable land, creating a woodland ‘super-reserve’.
Our surveys have found this woodland to be rich in ancient woodland species. Unlike the current reserve, some of this woodland has never been used as woodland pasture, so has a very different structure to the tree cover, providing more variety to the reserve as a whole. There are also several veteran Oak and Beech trees that are home to breeding populations of rare Barbastelle bats. These ancient trees have plenty of cracks, holes and loose bark for bats to roost in, similar to trees in the main reserve, where we don’t need to put up bat boxes to sustain good breeding populations.
Barbastelle Bat © Hugh Clark
The presence of bats influence how we manage the reserve to ensure a healthy population. This will require a long term commitment to monitoring and surveying which will also help us understand how they link to the bats in the main reserve at Ebernoe.
For many ancient woodlands, one of the biggest threats to their biodiversity is a lack of the right conservation management. Ebernoe Common is one of the most species rich sites in Sussex, but this is thanks to years of careful, practical activities. When we bought Ebernoe Common in 1980 we opened up the woodland glades, and restored grazing to the reserve. We now have a diverse woodland with over 4,100 species recorded, full of flowers such as Primrose, Devil’s-bit Scabious, and Sneezewort.
The new woodland will also need careful management, to enhance its biodiversity, in the coming years, and we will be monitoring it with regular ecological surveys. There will also be costs associated with the initial purchase of woodland, including tree safety work, fencing and gate repairs. Securing funding for the ongoing management costs is also a crucial part of making this purchase possible.
Next year is the 60th anniversary of Sussex Wildlife Trust, and the purchase of this ancient woodland would be a wonderful way to celebrate.
Please leave a gift today and help enhance one of the most important woodlands in Europe, and leave a lasting legacy for the people of Sussex.