The first-ever week to celebrate national nature reserves is underway, with people encouraged to get out and about and explore nature in one of the 9 main NNRs across Sussex.
Nature reserves boast a unique tapestry of flora, fauna and geological wonders and are home to more than 17,000 species, spanning 106,000 hectares of protected habitat across every corner of England – approximately 0.7% of the country’s land surface.
National Nature Reserves Week runs from 20-29 May with a series of events aimed at getting residents and visitors to appreciate nature more.
East Sussex has 4 NNRs, at Castle Hill, in Brighton; Lullington Heath, near Hastings; Lewes Downs; and Pevensey Levels.
In West Sussex, 1 of the national nature reserves is looking to people who can’t get there, but still want to experience the protected-habitat site.
Kingley Vale was 1 of the first NNRs to be designated back in 1952. Coming right up to date, the home of trees said to be some of the oldest living things in Britain at 500 years old has launched a virtual tour allowing viewers to immerse themselves in the epic views across the south coast over to the Isle of Wight.
People can also get up close and personal with the reserve’s Iron Age forts. You can, of course, visit Kingley Vale in person, at West Stoke, north-west of Chichester.
If you do, then you might fancy taking part in a reptile walk to mark NNR Week. This free event on Sunday 28 May will explore the inhabitant adders, slow worms and common lizards. You’ll learn how to identify reptiles and discover Kingley Vale off the beaten track.
The second of the 2 national nature reserves in West Sussex is at Ebernoe Common, north of Petworth, managed by Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Ebernoe is a wonderful dense ancient woodland with smaller patches of scrub and grassland, exposing beautiful old oak and beech trees, long stretches of peaceful woodland paths, a classic village pub and a lily-covered lake. There is plenty of history and wildlife along the way, too.
Marian Spain, chief executive of Natural England, said:
“I am delighted to come together with our partners to launch National Nature Reserves Week – a chance for all of us to celebrate England’s remarkable wildlife and natural habitats.
“National nature reserves have, for decades, played a vital role in conserving various species of plants and animals, but also provided an outdoor space for research and education, and opportunities to access, enjoy and engage with our natural heritage.
“Whether you are visiting for the first time, or it’s a part of your daily walk, I invite everyone to explore one of the 221 national nature reserves nationwide and see what’s on offer.”
This new annual 10-day celebration will help to raise awareness of the critical role these reserves play in combatting climate change, boosting nature recovery, and preserving endangered species.
It is hoped it will inspire a new generation of nature champions and comes as Natural England celebrates the coronation with a new ‘King’s Series’ of 25 NNR declarations over the next five years, to support nature recovery and meet the ambitions of the Government’s Environmental Improvement Plan.
The announcement follows Natural England marking 70 years since the first NNRs were declared last year. Since then, England’s national nature reserves have continued to play a crucial role in protecting nature and are now at the heart of a growing nature recovery network – providing homes for different species of animals, birds, and plants to thrive.
Research has shown that NNRs managed by Natural England offer huge value for money, with a wide range of economic, environmental and societal benefits totalling £36 million.
A full list of national nature reserves in East and West Sussex and the wider South East can be found at:
Kingley Vale National Nature Reserve reptile walk with Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group Hunt for resident reptiles. This free event will join experts from Sussex Amphibian and Reptile Group as they guide you, on the lookout for adders, slow worms and common lizard.
A great opportunity to learn how to identify our native reptiles, as well as explore Kingley Vale off the beaten track.
Sunday 28 May, from 2pm to 5pm. Free, booking required through Julian@firstname.lastname@example.org.