There was a very positive and enthusiastic atmosphere in the lecture hall. There was a great range of topics covered during the day and plenty of opportunity to network with the delegates and speakers, meeting old friends and making new.
Topics covered that day included ‘The Potential for Sussex Wetlands’. ‘Delivering Better Rivers for Sussex’, ‘Farming Floodplains for the Future’, ‘The Chalk Streams of Sussex’, ‘Species as ecosystem engineers – the beaver’, and ‘Managing Coastal Realignment. The speakers presented in a clear and concise way, some with humour, which made it easy to follow (great for a novice such as me!!).
We learned about the pressures on the Sussex wetlands; how they have changed over time, and how we need to protect them going forwards with careful management. Some of our wetlands are internationally important, such as Pagham Harbour and the Pevensey Levels, but we need to look after them as many are not in a favourable state.
We learned more about flood risk management and that there are projects underway to reconnect floodplains back to the river, projects to create floodplain woodlands, and projects looking at the threat to settlements. I also learned more about pollution and aquatic management.
There is work underway to protect the chalk streams of Sussex, work restoring the flower-rich grassland along the River Ouse, and also work around encouraging the growth of pollinators. It really is amazing how much work is going on to look after what so many people take for granted as being key aspects of our beautiful countryside.
It was interesting to learn about the threats of invasive species such as the Giant Hogweed and Himalayan Balsam. Volunteers are working hard to clear great swathes of these species to prevent them completely taking over local environments and ecosystems.
It was also enlightening to learn more about the beaver, the otter and the numerous other fauna and flora that feature in our wetland environments such as wintering wildfowl, water voles and breeding waders.
We learned about lagoons and coastal environments too, and I was particularly interested to find out about the conservation challenges resulting from climate change, species invasion, and the impact of various forms of land use.
It really was an inspiring day. It was free to attend, unless you wanted to partake in the delicious lunch that was offered, and it was an easy venue to reach by road, rail and bus. All in all, it was a great event, very well attended and well constructed.
Claire Lloyd, Secretary, Mid Sussex District
15th April 2012
Brighton and Hove City Plan