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Wilder Horsham District

Children walking through the meadow at Chesworth Farm

Children at Chesworth Farm, © Miles Davies, Sussex Wildlife Trust

About Wilder Horsham District

Wilder Horsham District is a five-year partnership between Sussex Wildlife Trust and Horsham District Council that aims to:

  • Help wildlife thrive across the Horsham District.
  • Create networks of land that are protected and enhanced for wildlife, to allow habitats to expand and for species populations to increase which will ensure that they are resilient to change.
  • Increase awareness of actions that communities can take to improve their local natural environment and the benefits that wildlife provides.
  • Maximise the opportunities that protecting and enhancing wildlife brings for climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Reversing the decline

The Horsham District has a rich natural environment which forms part of its identity and sense of place.

National studies confirm that wildlife has declined significantly over the past 20-30 years. According to a group of national conservation organisations 15% of wildlife species are under threat of extinction. Since the 1970s the populations of 41% of UK species have reduced.

This national picture is reflected in the Horsham District. For example, wildflower meadows which formed part of the landscape character of the area were once a common sight but these are now rare. Individual species, such as the Turtle Dove, could become extinct, as numbers in Sussex are now critical.

Horsham District Council and the Sussex Wildlife Trust have formed a partnership to reverse the decline in species and habitats. This will ensure that the District’s natural environment is protected and enhanced so that it remains an attractive place to live and work.

It will also contribute to tackling and reducing the impacts of climate change. This document sets out what this partnership hopes to achieve.

Nature Recovery Award

Wilder Horsham District has a fund available to support landowners and community groups wishing to implement practical schemes to expand and improve networks for wildlife across the Horsham District landscape.

Sussex Wildlife Trust website

Visit the Sussex Wildlife Trust website for the most up to date information about the project

View a map of the District

The wider countryside also contains a wide variety of habitats that support numerous different species. The map shows the protected and important habitats found in the Horsham District.

Background

The Horsham District has a high quality and valued landscape. The southern part of the District is within the South Downs National Park and the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers the north eastern area. It also has numerous sites that are protected because of their value to wildlife. This ranges from international sites such as the Arun Valley Ramsar site with a significant diversity of species, through to Sites of Special Scientific Interest like St Leonard’s Forest and numerous locally important areas, such as Woods Mill, in Small Dole and Chesworth Farm, near Horsham.

The wider countryside also contains a wide variety of habitats that support numerous different species. The map shows the protected and important habitats found in the Horsham District.

One of the main challenges is that habitats (whether they are protected or not) are becoming increasingly fragmented and isolated from each other. This does not allow species to move around, making wildlife less resilient to change; such as changes in land management or the climate.

The Council recognises that the natural world is under increasing threat. Wildlife that was once familiar in the Horsham District is now rare.

This new partnership with the Sussex Wildlife Trust aims to reverse this decline. It builds on the strong relationship that the Council already has with the Trust, to make a real change in how we use our natural heritage and our environment.

Both organisations want to work with local landowners, community groups and organisations to enhance the District’s natural world, so that species and habitats thrive to benefit everyone that lives and works in the area.

Jonathan Chowen, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Leisure and Culture at Horsham

We see Wilder Horsham District as an opportunity to demonstrate how a District Council and a Wildlife Trust can work collaboratively to progress the wildlife agenda at a meaningful district level.

Together we can demonstrate how a Nature Recovery Network can be delivered with local people, communities and organisations all playing their roles. We want to see wildlife thrive throughout the district for residents and for all residents and visitors to enjoy the benefits.

Tor Lawrence, Chief Executive of the Sussex Wildlife Trust