Save wildlife in Sussex, England

This video from England says about itself:

4 November 2014

From rolling hills to bustling market towns, the South Downs National Park’s landscapes cover 1,600km2 of breathtaking views and hidden gems. A rich tapestry of wildlife, landscapes, tranquillity and visitor attractions, weave together a story of people and place in harmony.

From the Hampshire Hangars to the iconic white cliffs of the Sussex Heritage Coast, from curvaceous hills, rolling farmland, ancient woodland and lowland heaths, to our ‘picture perfect’ villages, traditional country pubs and flourishing vineyards – the South Downs National Park will subtly seduce you.

To celebrate and show our support for World Responsible Tourism Day on November 5th 2014, we have launched this new video showing the beauty of the South Downs National Park.

A new guide making it easier to choose responsible holidays in the South Downs is available from Our Land – the only site exclusively dedicated to promoting tourism in protected landscapes in the UK. The guide contains a wealth of practical, interesting, fun and quirky information in an easy to read and easily digestible format. Everything you need to know to discover, enjoy and care for South Downs National Park including amazing accommodation that suits you, how to enjoy your visit without using a car and tourism businesses that put landscape at the heart of everything they do.

Visit to find out more.

By Dave Bangs in Britain:

It’s up to us to stop the South Downs sell-off

Wednesday 30th November 2016

Selling off the last of Sussex’s council-owned downlands with its rare flora and fauna would be a tragedy, writes DAVE BANGS

IN THE past months major storms have arisen on the Sussex Downs due to threatened large-scale sales of local council-owned downland. On the Brighton Downs the city council has been “reviewing” its “non-core assets” and attempting to dispose of a series of sites.

These include part of a 50-year-old nature reserve which is the last county site for the little native Juniper conifer (present on the Downs since the Ice Age); a cave with four resident species of bat and the iconic Plumpton Hill, with its commanding views over the forested Sussex Weald.

On the Eastbourne Downs behind Beachy Head, the council has been moving towards the disposal of over 3,000 acres of public downland, which form the backdrop to the town. It includes numerous prehistoric burial mounds and field systems, a neolithic hill fort and large, nationally important wildlife sites for orchids and rare flowers such as the Moon Carrot, which glows white in the darkest night.

On these Downs, the local councils are major landowners, having acquired large tranches of land cheaply in the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s during the long agricultural depression. They did so to protect them from rapidly expanding urban sprawl, to protect the chalk aquifer — the source of their drinking water — and to protect the ancient open sheep walks, beloved by walkers and naturalists. While they largely failed with the latter objective (because agribusiness farmers ploughed up much archaic grassland that was tractor-accessible), they succeeded with the two former objectives.

The legacy of these conservation purchases is huge. Brighton Council owns some 12,500 acres; Eastbourne Council has 4,200 acres; Worthing Council has 500 acres; East Sussex County Council has about 700 acres at Seven Sisters and Lewes and Adur Councils have several hundred acres between them.

This 18,000 acres — plus the public downland — forms the backbone of public assets within the new South Downs National Park, together with the Forestry Commission’s estates. The National Park Authority itself owns no land; it doesn’t even own a public toilet.

Tragically, the loss of the open sheep walks (depriving the public of traditional access) and the commercial management of the estates by arms-length land agencies like Savills and Strutt and Parker have meant that the cultural memory of these free and open landscapes has been much eroded.

Twenty years ago, Brighton’s Labour-led council tried to sell its downland, but was forced to abandon the proposal by a vigorous campaign. Five years ago, the Tory-controlled Worthing Council abandoned similar sales proposals in the face of militant opposition. Both councils then “came good” and designated huge tranches of their downland as statutory “freedom to roam” land. Major changes in downland management brought in much wildlife and heritage conservation and partially recreated the great sheep walks which gave the South Downs its character.

In some areas, such as behind Beachy Head, this amounted to superb measures of finely crafted landscape restoration.

This was just what the late Michael Meacher, former Labour environment minister, had in mind when he announced the creation of a South Downs National Park and proposed it would be dedicated to the restoration of a landscape which had lost over 90 per cent of its archaic grasslands.

Within the last two months, activists in Brighton and Eastbourne have launched Keep Our Downs Public (KODP) campaigns. In Brighton we have secured a temporary halt on the sales and the policy will be reviewed on December 8 at the key council committee.

There we face the current opposition of the Labour leadership (though the sales policy was initiated in 2014 under the Green Party leadership) but we are hopeful that this can be reversed. In Eastbourne we face the opposition of the Lib Dem leadership. However, the new KODP group organised a feisty 120-strong town hall picket and a lively semi-public meeting with the council leader within its first fortnight. Activists face the task of helping the council recover the lost memories of its progressive past.

If we lose the Duke of Devonshire Estates, the old property developers who built Eastbourne will have a legal right to first refusal on much of the sold land. Rich new owners may exclude us, damage vulnerable wildlife habitat, turn the farms over to game shoots and excluding land uses (like vineyards, solar arrays, private “parks” and horticulture) with their CCTV cameras and high fences and press for incremental built developments.

If we win, we can drive forward more huge gains in public access (over 2,000 acres of new access land already around Brighton) and stitch back together the historic landscape’s shattered tapestry of archaic wildflower grassland in a sustainable pastoral economy.

Across the country, similar battles are being fought in defence of public land, parks, open spaces and county council smallholdings.

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