CPRE Sussex Director’s column written for West Sussex Gazette, August 2023
We are holding a Countryside Day Out at the Knepp Estate on September 2. The day is a double celebration of CPRE Sussex’s 50th anniversary and Knepp Estate’s new Wilding Café and Shop.
As regular readers will know, CPRE Sussex is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary year. For half a century tireless volunteers, trustees and a small team of staff have worked to protect and enhance the tranquil places, beautiful landscapes and biodiversity of Sussex.
We believe there is so much to celebrate about our historic county. Our unique landscapes include Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, ancient woodlands, riverside meadows and much-loved green spaces in our towns and villages.
Sussex enjoys a rich diversity of species and habitats – from the heathland in Ashdown Forest and chalk grassland of the South Downs, to ancient, coppiced woodland with bluebells. About 80 protected species live in Sussex, ranging from dormice to bats, and a further 500 species are recognised as a priority for conservation.
Our county is also home to passionate campaigners and volunteers. Whether it is exploring sustainable farming practices, communities organising energy co-operatives or campaigners successfully fighting the destruction of ancient woodland, these dedicated teams and individuals want to not only protect Sussex but enhance it.
To celebrate all of this and mark the end of our 50th anniversary year we are holding a Countryside Day Out at the Knepp Estate on September 2. The day is a double celebration of CPRE Sussex’s 50th anniversary and Knepp Estate’s new Wilding Café and Shop.
We invite everyone to come and celebrate with us, meet our dedicated volunteers and find out more about rewilding at the Knepp Estate. We will be joined by a host of other charities and environmental organisations on the day including the RSPB and the Woodland Trust.
We have lined up a packed programme of talks and tours with topics including how to grow-your-own Knepp style, transforming Sussex clay into pottery and how to care for our four-legged friends.
There is also a dedicated kids’ zone. Woods for Learning will have a full set of activities that mums, dads and grandparents can enjoy with kids from walking age. The activities aim to help children learn about the countryside while also having fun. Catherine Sleeman will join the kids’ activity area to help everyone celebrate the countryside through dance.
A young man called Archie will also be chatting to other youngsters about how he rescued unhappy battery hens. He will bring along his sheep and pony, Winston, for the children to see.
Fifty years after it was founded, CPRE Sussex continues to fight for our countryside – from opposing plans to expand Gatwick Airport to campaigning for rooftop solar. But this day is a chance to celebrate all that we have achieved and inspire the next generation to help shape a greener future for Sussex.
I hope to see many of you there to celebrate with us. The Countryside Day Out is free for kids and £5 per adult. To see the full programme of talks and book your place visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/cpre-sussex-countryside-day-tickets-525450826567