Monday 29 June 2015

Lewes Railway Land Festival

On Sunday 5th July the Lewes Railway Land is hosting the Biosphere Festival.  There will be a host of events and displays, including a small stand from the SWT, but the event will be opened with a fascinating geological perspective on 500 million years of climate and sea-level change.

A geology display by Professor Rory Mortimore will be formally unveiled at the Railway Land Festival.  This display, which will feature drilling cores, fossils, drone shots and QR code- triggered videos sets out long term historical climate change that brings yet another aspect to the pioneering Linklater Pavilion dedicated to the study of environmental change.

Said Professor Mortimore, who will open the exhibition at 3pm on 5th July, ‘Climate and sea levels have constantly changed throughout geological time.  The rocks that make the South Downs record nearly 40 million years of environmental change. Sea-level was 300 metres above present day (two times the height of Beachy Head) when the Chalk, exposed in the river-cliffs at Lewes opposite the Linklater Pavilion, formed.

The animals that lived in that sea and on the seafloor are the fossils that we now find in our local chalk pits and shown in these displays.  As well as high sea levels the Chalk represents a time when the Earth was a ‘hot-house’ with no or little polar ice.  Yet we can see in the Chalk that there were also small ‘cycles’ of temperature and climate change represented by the alternating beds of marl-limestone in Southerham Grey Pit.’

The free Railway Land Live! Festival, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, will include many family activities - a Minecraft game based on the Reserve, underwater wildlife images, a puppet show, displays by the young sea level rise group of teenagers called the Linklater Rats, live music, refreshments and much more.  It runs from 2-5pm at the Railway Land Local Nature Reserve, situated at the end of Railway Lane, Lewes BN7 2FG.

Monday 22 June 2015

Happy Birthday to the Brighton and Lewes Downs Biosphere.

The Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere is now a year old and in that time it has built up a good record of pioneering a positive future for people and nature in the area.

The Biosphere – an area of land and coastal waters between the rivers Adur and Ouse – was officially recognised by UNESCO on 11 June 2014. With the city of Brighton and Hove at its heart, it joined a unique global network of over 600 international demonstration areas across 100 countries.

The Biosphere name confers a high level of international recognition on an area, but it does not come with any extra guaranteed money or powers.  So action has to be delivered through imaginative approaches.  And since its launch the Biosphere has developed new partnerships, improved the natural environment, organised a campaign of community engagement and provided more opportunities for local people and visitors to experience its special nature.

Paula Murray, chair of the Biosphere Board, says “We want to build on the success of our first year through more innovative major projects, novel partnerships and greater community engagement. Our aim is to sustainably improve our environment, our relationship with it and ourselves too.”

The work of the Biosphere programme has successfully:
  • Worked with Brighton & Hove City Council’s Cityparks team and the University of Sussex to create new wildflower areas for bees and butterflies in Brighton, including a new ‘bee-bed’ at The Level
  • Created fun and stimulating educational programmes for children including a virtual world of the Biosphere based on the popular computer game,  Minecraft
  • Developed projects with a range of public and private bodies to reduce impacts of flooding and to improve the quality of our drinking water from the chalk downs
  • Worked with Visit Brighton to develop a 'Best of our Biosphere' guide for visitors and local people, as well as a host of new materials for promotional and educational purposes

The Biosphere Partnership of some 40 local organisations, including the Sussex Wildlife Trust, aspires to not just enhance the environment but also to raise the profile and awareness of how special our area is with both residents and visitors, as a key foundation for the local economy too.

Murray says, “We have established a Biosphere Board that will work with the Greater Brighton Economic Board to take forward a programme of new projects that deliver for both people and the environment, for example by diversifying our visitor offer to include eco-tourism.”

We all rely 100% on the environment for our health and well-being, yet people in towns and cities can become isolated from this reality.  Brighton, Hove and Lewes are set within a world-class environment, both in the surrounding Downs and threading into the urban areas themselves.  The Biosphere has created the perfect opportunity to increase awareness of this precious resource and hopefully provide a stimulus for us to care for it for years to come.