Friday, 30 May 2014

The Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere – it’s nearly here!

The Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere partnership will find out next month if the area is to be designated as a new international Biosphere. The decision will be taken when the United Nations body UNESCO meets in Sweden next month (10-13th June).

The Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere partnership has spent six years developing the bid proposal, which was submitted to UNESCO in September last year and has received favourable feedback.  The Sussex Wildlife Trust has been part of this partnership since its inception and is a strong supporter of the bid.

Once approved, our Biosphere will be the first completely new site in the UK in almost forty years, will be the only such area in south-east England and one of only a handful that include major urban settlements worldwide. 

Chair of the Biosphere partnership, Chris Todd says; “We are now very close to realising the result of six years’ strenuous effort by numerous local bodies and individuals, and are keeping everything crossed for a positive outcome (expected on 11th June,) from when our efforts to look after and improve our local environment will take a place on the world stage”.

Jeremy Burgess, Eastern Downs Area Manager for the South Downs National Park and Vice Chair of the Biosphere partnership said: “The South Downs has specific legal protection granted by its status as a national park – the highest designation for landscape in the country. In the Biosphere we want enhancing quality of life, the local economy and the environment to develop hand-in-hand and this international recognition would help to attract more people and funding to promote and research how we can achieve this.”


The proposed Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere will cover all of the land and near-shore coastal waters between the two rivers of the Adur in the west and the Ouse in the east, so includes the South Downs National Park block here as well as the city of Brighton & Hove and neighbouring towns of Lewes, Newhaven, Peacehaven, Shoreham, Telscombe, Southwick and Shoreham Beach.

An international Biosphere area would bring the three environments here of downs, towns and coast together under a flagship initiative to not only look after and improve the natural environment, but also better engage people in the nature on their doorsteps and promote action to reduce the environmental impacts of our lifestyles.


The aim is to become a “world-class environment”, as part of an international network spanning some 600 sites in over 100 countries that share best practice and bring people and nature together while seeking to balance the needs of both.

The Biosphere bid is being led by Brighton & Hove City Council, working in partnership with some forty organisations including local authorities, public bodies, the private sector, educational bodies and voluntary bodies, including the Sussex Wildlife Trust.

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