Friday 28th April-Monday 1st May the Brighton and Eastern Downs region took part in the City Nature Challenge 2023, a global Bioblitz where cities and regions pit it out against one another to try to find as many different species as possible.
Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group and the Wilding Waterhall project ran public bioblitz events with local experts and Buglife’s Alice Parfitt lending a hand with I’Ding some of the more specialist species found around our wonderful city.
Viviparous Lizard, seen at Waterhall Local Nature Reserve, photo credit Ryan Greaves
Professional ecological surveyor Graeme Lyons undertook a mammoth weekend of recording, chronicled here, in which he made 2801 records of 1014 species. This included 570 invertebrates, 303 plants and 77 birds. Gerald Legg, former Keeper of Natural Sciences at the Booth Museum also took a trip down to Black Rock for a survey of the rock pools and turned up a spectacular list. when the final scores were totted up the Brighton and Eastern Downs region came top in the UK, reclaiming the title it earned in 2021 and 2022!
It isn’t really a competition. The only winners are nature, science and everyone who takes part. The event is great fun and produces some top quality citizen science, helping us understand more about the wildlife we share our wonderful landscape with.
Green Shore Crab Carcinus maenas– male (left) mate guarding a female
Ceramium spp- a type of red marine algae
Slipper Limpet Crepidula fornicata
Cryptosula pallasiana- species of colonial bryozoan
Pulmularia setacea- species of hydroid
The City Nature Challenge 2023, an international bioblitz where cities and regions pit it out against one another in a friendly competition to see who can record as many species as possible, is next weekend- Fri 28th April- Monday 1st May.
Just download the i Naturalist app or go to the website and join the Brighton and Eastern Downs project to add your records and follow how the region is faring. Can we lead the UK for the highest number of different species recorded over the weekend for the third year running? I hope so!
Anyone can get involved and you can record anything you see from an Aardvark to a Zorilla. All taxa too from plants to fungi to lichen to animals.
Here are a couple of sites which are holding public bioblitzes you might like to join. Click on the links for details:
BHCC recently released a report on the Wilder Verges pilot study, which looked at whether managing our city’s road verges in a more targeted fashion could benefit people and wildlife. The results show how small changes in how we manage the landscape around us can have significant benefits to nature, even in a short timespan.
BHWF have been working in partnership with BHCC on the project since it began in 2021, with members offering expertise, advice and surveying. The forum looks forward to working with BHCC over the coming years to continue to refine the project and look for other suitable grassland areas to expand into.
“The Wilder Verges project helped to increase our diverse range of wildlife and plants. Its aim was also to bring residents and visitors closer to nature.
We monitored the Wilder Verges areas to learn how changes to how often and when we mow, affected our urban nature.
The results, detailed in our Wilder Verges Report show:
-nearly half (48%) of the sites saw an increase in pollinator or downland plant species present (11 out of the 23 sites)
-10 out of 23 sites (43%) saw the amount of pollinator species increase from 2021 (short mown) to 2022 (unmown during the main flowering season)
-70% of the verges (16 out of 23) recorded a pollinator or downland plant species not seen as present in the 2021 survey.”
Write to your local councillors in support of the project, highlighting the benefits to people and nature! Please cc in email@example.com
Benfield Valley is one of the remaining threads still connecting our city to the Downs, acting as a refuge for wildlife right in the heart of the urban landscape and a place for people to connect with nature on their doorstep.
The Benfield Valley Project has been working with Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group to protect this area from development and inspire the community to care for the greenspace.
They are holding a protest on Sunday 16th October, 4:30pm in Greenlees car park, looking to push back at attempts to develop an area in the heart of the LWS. This would fracture the site and set a precedent for further development.
Please go and support, and spread the word to your communities. Similar efforts will be taking place at sites across the city and the more we support one another the louder our voice will be.
Also, please find below a lovely article on Benfield Local Nature Reserve which was printed in a recent edition of the Hovarian.
See below from Sally Hubbard, chair of Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group
“Ahead of celebrating our 30th anniversary as a Local Nature Reserve next year, I am delighted our group is featured in this month’s issue of the Hovarian Magazine. This sets out the unique characteristics of Benfield Hill and its precious habitat. The article James and I wrote is a timely reminder of the need to protect and preserve Brighton & Hove’s first Local Nature Reserve. If you are interested in supporting our efforts, please do not hesitate to contact us. Thank you to @jamestulley and the Hovarian. Please see the link to the article.
https://www.brightonandhovemagazines.co.uk/the-hovarian/ #conservation #protection #nature #wildlife #community
Please note there is reference to a task day for volunteers on 23rd October but this is being postponed to 26th November.”
It comes as a surprise to many residents that BHCC owns an extensive area of land beyond the city’s urban fringe. This Downland estate extends in a wide arc from Southwick in the West to Saltdean in the East. This land was bought up by previous councils in the late 19th and early 20th centuries to protect our city’s aquifer, contain development and allow the people of Brighton and Hove the rights to roam freely over the land as they would have done for countless millennia.
In the time since, the intensification of agriculture has left the city’s aquifer over exploited and polluted, the Brighton Down’s once rich and biodiverse nature degraded and the people of Brighton and Hove largely excluded from the land that they own and once cherished.
The council is in the process of creating a whole estate plan for this Downland estate and as part of this process has been consulting residents and other stakeholders on how the land should be used and managed over the next century. This represents a once in a generation opportunity to bring about real change, acting on the biodiversity, climate and social emergencies our community faces holistically, and restoring the Brighton Downs to the nature rich, free and open landscape our ancestors once knew.
The Brighton Downs Alliance is a group of local residents, experts and 30+ organisations, including Brighton and Hove Food Partnership, CPRE Sussex, BHWF and Sussex Wildlife Trust, which have been campaigning for a sustainable future for our Downs, which reconnects residents with food produced on their doorstep and brings nature and the Downland landscape back into all of our lives.
A draft City Downland Estate Plan has now been produced, based upon inputs from an initial round of consultation in 2020/2021. This draft will be consulted upon in May/June 2022, with another round of public engagement events and opportunities to comment. BHWF will be sharing information in the coming months about how you can get involved….
Friday 30th April- Monday 3rd May 2022- the Brighton and Eastern Downs region took part in the City Nature Challenge 2022, a global Bioblitz where cities and regions pit it out against one another to try to find as many different species as possible.
It was close all weekend, with the Brighton and Eastern Downs region lagging behind areas such as Birmingham and Bristol for much of proceedings. But, thanks to some mammoth last minute efforts by local naturalists including Graeme Lyons and Gerald Legg, when the final scores were totted up the Brighton and Eastern Downs region came top in the UK, reclaiming the title it earned in 2021!
The event is great fun and produces some top quality citizen science, helping us understand more about the wildlife we share our wonderful landscape with. Anyone can take part. Click here to find out more….