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Woodingdean Wilderness Group- protects nature, health and ecosystems for and with our community

by Woodingdean Wilderness Group,

Our intention is to bring people together to create biodiverse and sustainable public green spaces that promotes: our natural ecosystems and its wildlife; people's health, happiness, well-being; and improves the quality of life for those in the Woodingdean area through our activities.

As well as meeting local needs, Woodingdean Wilderness Group aims to meet the BHCC Carbon Neutral 2030 plan pledges to protect nature, health and ecosystems in order to reduce carbon emissions and put in place long-term solutions to safeguard the planet for the next generation.

We are pleased to be a member of the Brighton Downs Alliance and contribute our voice, energy, and skills to the wider endeavour of saving our precious Chalk Downland and City urban fringe greenspaces.

Community Development, Principles and Practices

Woodingdean Wilderness Group was set up to engage the whole community in using and improving our local green spaces, and to provide inclusive nature conservation, health and wellbeing activities. Our good practice model for community development in nature conservation ensures we promote community wellbeing and resilience as well as looking after the land.

We are keen to increase the number of residents who access and feel engaged in the area’s beautiful green spaces. Our Committee, volunteers and participants are all residents, and we use co-design methods in the planning of our community activities in shaping the landscape on our doorstep.

We provide a variety of Volunteering opportunities, ways to support, get involved and learn. Through our project we will show people how to connect to nature in an accessible way and encourage participation through free community activities. We promote our activities and engage the community via Community Newsletters and posters as well as on-line to ensure we overcome the Digital barriers that many people face, especially the elderly.

We hope that participating in a local, volunteer-led organisation, making meaningful contributions, gaining skills, and sharing personal experiences will prove to be an effective way of increasing confidence and community engagement.

We aim to consult and engage with not only with our local community but also stakeholders and other groups within the Brighton Downs Estate who are connected to the land we care for.

Biodiversity and ecosystem restoration

Woodingdean Wilderness Group has a remit to conserve and restore the physical habitats of our local wildlife populations by planting native trees, shrubs and chalk downland wildflowers. This will encourage an increase in diversity of species and strengthen ecological networks by providing food sources and habitats to support the life cycles of birds, bats, bees, butterflies, insects and other wildlife.

We are in a special position of having a mosaic of habitats and edges on our doorstep including: agricultural fields and field margins, mixed woodland, Downland, recreational and amenity grass areas, roadside verges and residential gardens. We aim to support links between these by encouraging wildlife corridors. We encourage our membership to learn how to become more wildlife, insect and butterfly friendly in their own gardens, homes and community via our Facebook group and Email list.

We also work with our BHCC Ranger to provide local opportunities for members of the Woodingdean community to learn how to support biodiversity e.g.learning how to plant trees properly, surveying flowers and butterflies, and conserving natural habitats and species.

Working in Partnership with Local Farmers

Woodingdean Wilderness Group is caring for a re-claimed area of farmland that has now been planted with trees, the area around us it still open farmland alongside the cemetery and old woodland. We are working in partnership with BHCC rangers to conserve and manage the land and also with the Local Farmer to ensure we not only encourage wildlife of all kinds on our shared edges but enhance the other areas around us too.

Open Access

We are surrounded by farmland that has many footpaths which are frequently used to walk dogs and for human recreation and leisure activities. Our Wilderness site has open access to the farmland, we actively engage with those using these paths to ensure the countryside code is followed and safety is observed. We plan to provide a noticeboard and signage in due course to communicate our activities, access routes and information about the biodiversity of the area to the wider public.

Archaeological & Cultural Heritage

Woodingdean Wilderness Group is keen to understand and explore any archaeological history of our site and have already been in touch with the County Archaeologist to ascertain if any activity has taken place. Any activity taking place would be properly recorded, documented and maintained as necessary. We would wholeheartedly support the protection and priority of all archaeological sites not just in our area but the whole city.

Accountability, Transparency, Democracy

Woodingdean Wilderness Group believes that all activities we take part in or support should be accountable, transparent and completed in a democratic way. We have a small, elected Committee, our regular meetings are documented, and our decision making is democratic. We engage the wider community and group members in decision-making where possible and provide opportunities for them to feed in ideas for how our project will evolve in the future.

We would support BDA in its endeavours to ensure that any land held by the City is not sold, changed or otherwise interfered without a full transparent consultation taking place and will actively support this.

Clare Millett Hopkins (Chair) on behalf of Woodingdean Wilderness Group
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Rachel Henson 7 months ago
Well said Phil and Woodingdean Wildness Group. I pressed the thumbs down button by accident! Pity you can't change it once you've pressed. 
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HoveResident 7 months ago
Involving local communities in nature conservation and allowing access and understanding of the National Park on our doorstep should be of the highest priority for BHCC and be at the heart of the City Downland Estate Plan. 
The benefits for people and biodiversity are obvious, I fully support this submission. 
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Equine Gentling 7 months ago
A wonderful submission. We agree that it is crucial the Downland Estate is opened up to opportunities to provide inclusive nature conservation, health and well being activities to all. 
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PhilB 8 months ago
Welcome to the great cause - helping to try and make our Brighton Downs a more wildlife-rich, sustainably managed and better protected part of the South Downs National Park. Landscape scale restoration and re-creation, reversing the decline in biodiversity, safeguarding our cultural heritage and drinking water with permanent chalk grassland cover, which will capture carbon, sensitively managed, with local food supply to the people on the urban fringes, all in a celebrated, publicly accessible downland. 

26 national, regional and local groups now make up the Alliance - that's a strong message to our council, who we hope can become, once again, the custodians of our precious Brighton Downs Estate. This collective represents many thousands of people, all looking expectantly at the council to positively respond and take the necessary action, with robust policies setting the long-term vision and annual programmes to significantly deliver results. With that encouragement, there is every good chance of some powerful partnerships working together to achieve the goals. 
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