Imagine a beautiful Persian carpet. Then cut it into a thousand squares. What do you get? Not a thousand smaller Persian carpets but a thousand scraps of cloth unravelling at the edges. That’s what’s happening to nature in the modern landscape, the scraps becoming ever smaller as the threads begin to trip us up. It is causing the Sixth Mass Extinction – a catastrophic loss of biodiversity affecting the whole planet.
We can see the unravellings all around us if we know how to look. A patch of ancient woodland surrounded by a monoculture of arable is vulnerable to ‘edge effect’ – the drift of chemical sprays, exposure to wind, extreme heat and frost – eating away at habitat on its periphery. That single ancient oak in the middle of a field of wheat has its roots assaulted by ploughing every year. The fine fungal filaments – or mycorrhizae – leading off its roots in search of nutrients are drenched several times a year in agricultural chemicals. The tree can no longer communicate underground with other trees. It is like a lone elephant in a zoo, deprived of the society of its herd, doomed to die alone.
One might think that wildlife can travel between isolated pockets of nature and, certainly, birds and some flying insects do. But many species, from fungi and wildflowers to earthworms and stag beetles, cannot. Small mammals such as hedgehogs, dormice and shrews are exposed to huge risks crossing inhospitable landscapes with no food or cover, criss-crossed by roads. At the same time, small islands of habitat become a honey pot for predators like foxes, badgers and domestic dogs and cats.
Many species need access to different habitats at different stages in their life cycle. All species need contact with other populations to preserve genetic diversity. And, crucially, without continuous habitat, species cannot travel.
Thankfully, it seems, we are waking up to the emergency. The Environment Bill is due to be enacted this autumn and local councils will soon be required by law to produce nature recovery networks.
Rewilding, as our project at Knepp has shown, proves how quickly nature can bounce back, if we let it. Regenerative agriculture can provide nature-friendly food production and a permeable landscape for wildlife. Rivers can be restored and treescapes reconnected.
We can mend the carpet. We can all play a part. Together we can create a landscape that is sustainable, biodiverse and a joy to live in.
The new kelp forest off the Sussex coast is becoming real. That’s the message from Councillors and wildlife and fisheries experts. And it puts Sussex in the forefront of efforts to combat global warming, habitat destruction and the return to a cleaner, more sustainable world.
The marine forest which stretched between Chichester and Rye was destroyed by storms and trawling in the 1980s but is now being restored.
“Given the extent of kelp loss it may take many years for kelp to recover to the density and distribution once known”, says Tim Dapling, Chief Officer for Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. “Early information appears to show changes in the environment already taking place since trawling management was introduced in March 2021. It will be very interesting to see changes in 4-5 years time.”
Carbon capture could be phenomenal, because kelp grows up to 30 times faster than land forests. Kelp also provides a safe environment for many other marine species. The aim is “to establish a healthy rich and diverse inshore environment, to ensure long term sustainable commercial and recreational fisheries”, explains Tim, who is working enthusiastically with a group of organisations including Sussex Wildlife Trust.
“We must give nature time and space. Patience is required. Nature does things far better than we do“, explains Sally Ashby, the Trust’s lead on the project. A key aim is scientific monitoring of the growing habitats. There will be underwater drones, extensive surveys and even samples of DNA to see which species are returning, and when.
Apart from the boost for fisheries, people will benefit in many ways. Sally speaks for all the partners when she explains: “The work of Sussex Wildlife Trust is entirely focussed on the local community so that everyone has ownership, everyone has a stake. There will be benefits for local businesses too, because if we have thriving, sustainable fisheries, if we have excellent water quality, if we have incredible nature for people to witness, then that has to be good for tourism as a whole.”
The community is what concerns Councillor Ed Crouch of Adur and Worthing Council, a major player in the project. One problem mentioned has been the impact of extra seaweed washed up after storms. “Coastal local authorities are in the process of developing solutions to remove excess wash-up of seaweed. We aim to ensure that the kelp is used for good purposes such as soil improvement, fertiliser, animal feed, and so on.”
This points to a new way of sustainable and productive agriculture as well as fisheries. It’s a low key, natural way of removing carbon which can only be a good thing. Maybe Sussex can become a beacon for sustainable land/sea projects around the UK- and with COP 26 coming up -who knows- maybe the world?
The COP26 Climate Summit starts in Glasgow on November 1st. It’s an opportunity that simply can’t be missed if the world is to get on top of climate change, and the multiple threats it poses to the planet, before it’s too late.
But who knew that crucial, behind-the-scenes, preparations for the conference are happening right here in Sussex, at Wiston House, just up the road from Steyning.
That’s where Wilton Park, a specialist offshoot of the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, is based. In their 75th anniversary year, Wilton Park have been instrumental in convening a whole series of dialogues and meetings – mostly online, because of Covid – all geared to making the Glasgow Summit a success.
COP stands for the ‘Conference of the Parties’, and Glasgow is the 26th such event since the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was signed in Rio at the 1992 Earth Summit. This one is particularly important. It is the first time that governments will be asked to report back on progress on the pledges made at the Paris Summit in 2016, and ‘ratchet’ them up with new and more demanding targets. Read more
PRESS RELEASE Repair, refill, recycle, reuse, restore, revive and reunite: These crucial ‘R’ words for building a sustainable world all came alive on Saturday 25th September in the Bishopric area in […]
Do you have solar panels at home? Is it time to join the move to community funded renewable energy? Do you want to explore practical ways to make it happen here for Horsham? Maybe you’re able to use your skills in finance, marketing, law, engineering or management to help form a community group to do this?
Here at Sussex Green Ideas, we’re looking for people who want to respond practically to the challenges of reducing climate disruption and help us adapt to the changes which are now inevitable.
You’re welcome to join an online meeting on October 20th 7pm-8pm, as part of our Sussex Green Ideas series. Kate Meakin, from Energise South, will explain what’s involved in setting up a community energy scheme and what funding is available to support the development of such a community group. Read more
What is in the Great Green Hamper? Bottle of Method – Wild Rhubarb anti-bac Bottle of Method – Peach Blossom anti-bac EcoVibe dish brush EcoVibe dish soap EcoVibe compostable sponge […]
On Wednesday 14th July, Sussex Green Living’s Youth Eco Forum led a day of outdoor activities in an area of ancient woodland near Billingshurst. The event, named Beyond Be-Leaf, hoped to give young people who would not usually have the opportunity to get out in the countryside a chance to get hands-on and creative, learning about the natural world. Youth Eco Forum Member, Flora Burleigh reflected that the best thing about the day was, “simply observing the students as they were immersed in nature, watching them be inspired and actually having the opportunity to pay a closer attention to the woodland environment.”
Year 7 and 8 pupils from Tanbridge House School, Christ’s Hospital School and City of London Academy Southwark spent the day learning about the local wildlife, woodland management, and positive climate solutions. They had the opportunity to explore their connection to nature through creative writing and dance workshops as well as learning woodcraft skills and going on a nature walk. Some of the young attendees had never been to the countryside before and this made the event a particularly exciting and revelatory experience. Read more
If you are reading this column, there’s a good chance that you have an urge to do ‘the right thing’. You’re the sort who’s first to help in a crisis. You were the first to raise the subject of climate change. And the first to actually do something about it! And what better first step than to start making educated choices in the way you shop? No more plastic bottles and dodgy packaging. You started shopping locally, avoiding waste, noticing how sustainable food might or might not be. And you are right.
But it’s complicated, isn’t it?.
Take milk as an example. To produce it from a cow is incredibly destructive. A study by Oxford University tells us that producing a glass of dairy milk results in almost three times the greenhouse gas emissions of any non-dairy milks! It takes approximately 120 litres of water, 150 square centimetres of land and produces 0.6 kg of carbon emissions to produce one 200ml glassful.
For almond milk, however, the figures are 78 litres of water, a mere 10 square centimetres of land and 2kg of CO2 emissions. It sounds like a no brainer, until you drill down – which is exactly what they have had to do in California! The Golden State is responsible for 80% of the world’s almond production which requires enormous plantations which slowly deplete and dry the soil. Farmers drill ever deeper to quench their thirsty crops, bringing up saltier water. This speeds up desertification, which in turn leads to fires, and the strong possibility of no more almond trees. Read more
Earlier this month I had the great pleasure of being shown around two of the four sites managed by Keith and Liane who, along with a great team of trustees run the charity Sustainable Sussex.
Volunteer Fiona, who lives in a flat 20 minute’s bike ride away, told me, “I’ve been helping for two years now. It was a real lifesaver during lockdown!”
The small area (it’s less than one acre) is rich in birdsong – all the more noticeable as there is little or no traffic noise. The scent of elderflower blossoms fills the air as swallows swoop low over the small fields. Read more
PRESS RELEASE: What does a 1974 milk float, 7 tonne lorry, a group of inspiring environmentalists and World Environment Day 5th June have in common? They are all part of the Bright New […]
What’s your next strategy for sustainable shopping? Find out…
by Oisin Collishe
With the shops re-opening now, can we use this moment to briefly pause and ask ourselves if we need to rush out to buy stuff which we might use for a season then discard?
USEFUL QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN SHOPPING:
(We don’t necessarily even need to know the answers!)
- How far did this have to travel to get here? (eg Made in China)
- What will happen to it after I’ve done with it? (eg Send to a charity shop or a Humana bin? Or swap with a friend?)
- How much time/energy/water did it take to grow/make this garment?
- Can it be re-made into something else? (eg polyester can be made into pens)
- Will it biodegrade? (eg wool)
- Will it have added micro-plastics or dyes into the water-systems?
By Paul Hannam, Chair of Greening Steyning
As Sir David Attenborough and others have warned 2021 is a turning point if we are to get on top of the climate and ecological crisis we are all facing.
Whatever your politics, whatever your lifestyle, whatever your values or interests, we have to rise above our individual differences to work together for the common good.
Will we look back and see the pandemic as a watershed in history, the moment when we acted as global citizens and community champions? If there is one definitive lesson from the Covid-19, it is that we have an astonishing capacity to unite under a common purpose. If we can maintain this resolve, we can prevent climate and ecological collapse.
Each one of us has a role to play as individuals, families, employees and members of a community. On our own, it is very hard to make the changes we need to. Working together, we can transform our communities. Through mutual support and community action, street by street, we can achieve our vision. Read more
Nuthurst Community Allotment by Sally White
One of the better things that happened in 2020 was that Jonathan van der Borgh turned up on Angus White’s doorstep. He brought with him the brilliant idea to create a new community allotment in Nuthurst. That idea is now becoming a reality.
As soon as we spread the word via the December issue of our local Parish Mag, The Link, we quickly gathered an extremely enthusiastic team of Nuthurst-ers! With seven pairs of hands on board, we cleared the ground of the old Architectural Plants’ site which has now moved to Pulborough. We weeded, shovelled soil, ploughed, rotavated, spruced up the glasshouses, chitted spuds, amassed loads of seeds and sowed.
We did another ‘shouting-about-how-great-we-are’ routine in The Link and on Social Media. These shout-outs have been very well received; we have had a flood of interest from local residents and also from local businesses who are keen to contribute much needed materials and equipment. Have a look at our website for details of how to get involved and for a list of the businesses who have been kind enough to donate to the allotment. Read more
Read the full article below.
All About Horsham (AAH) – Green Crusader – article
Feeling inspired to get involved?
We are always looking for volunteers, so get in touch or come and meet us and see how you can get involved! Join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, or sign up to receive our latest news (it only takes two seconds to add your email address – simply click on black ‘Follow‘ tab on bottom right of this screen!). Feel free to also send us an email using our contact form, or come and say hello at our events like the Horsham Climate Cafe or the Horsham Repair Cafe!