Guardian of Green Spaces
Phil Belden is one of Sussex’s most passionate and proactive environmentalists.
For the past 30 years and more (it’s actually nearly two score years – from 1983!) he has fought tirelessly for the countryside – securing protection for green spaces large and small across the county.
In the 1980s, before the advent of the National Park, Phil was in the thick of the campaign to protect the South Downs ensuring that its unique landscape was designated as an Environmentally Sensitive Area. He developed the concept of Volunteer Rangers, which he had extended to form a Downs-wide Ranger Service by the time the National Park was formed.
Phil’s passion for the countryside is not confined to the South Downs. Over the years he has campaigned to enhance and protect numerous green spaces across the south east. More recently these have included threatened downland on the fringes of Eastbourne and Brighton, including two public golf courses.In 1987 Phil set up the Brighton Urban Wildlife Group (the experiences of which helped with community interest in Worthing, Littlehampton and other urban areas), then went on to create the very successful Wildlife Forum, which brings together all local wildlife groups. Those who work with him say his energy and passion have been an inspiration:
‘His up-lifting and positive attitude in helping to make sure green places are still available for public enjoyment in this city is certainly of benefit to many during these challenging times,’ says Maureen Holt who first met Phil when she started a local conservation group in the 1990s.
‘Phil has spent his whole life on initiatives that enrich and protect our countryside and green spaces, and supported communities to help benefit wildlife. I feel strongly that as an individual his enterprises across Sussex should be recognized and rewarded for the hard and often challenging work he has put in, using considerable initiative to help protect all that is good about Sussex – its countryside and urban green space.’
Phil is also founding member of the Sussex Dragonfly Society (and co-author of The Dragonflies of Sussex book).