Wilder Horsham District

What action can be taken?

Government policy has recognised that in order to reverse the general decline in habitats and species population new approaches are required.

This Wilder Horsham District partnership between the Sussex Wildlife Trust and the Council will draw on some of these new approaches; such as taking a wider landscape approach to enhance wildlife and not restricting actions to specific sites.

What is the role of Horsham District Council in the WHD project?

The District Council supports the project officers based at the Sussex Wildlife Trust via the project team and steering group. There is close working between both organisations, for example, encouraging and supporting volunteers to undertake work that assists in the development of the network.

The District Council already manages many of its parks and countryside sites for the benefit of wildlife. However, it will review its land management practices so that it contributes to the developing NRN.

Both organisations will work to inspire communities throughout the area to value wildlife and take action, on land of all sizes, to help it thrive. This will be an essential part of delivering the NRN.

The District Council is also responsible for land use planning in the District (excluding the South Downs National Park). The Government guidance on how Nature Recovery Networks should interact with development is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework.

In summary, planning should take account of the NRN and use it to inform where development can be made sustainable by protecting and enhancing nature. Adverse impacts should be avoided and opportunities to incorporate improvements for wildlife in and around development should be encouraged. The upcoming mandatory requirement, in the Environment Bill, for Biodiversity Net Gain reinforces that there must be wildlife gains as part of development. The NRN map will help to identify the types of Biodiversity Net Gains that could be secured.

What is the role of the Sussex Wildlife Trust

The Sussex Wildlife Trust employs the two project officers and supports them via the project team and steering group. Sussex Wildlife Trust also provides technical and expert support for the project.

As a conservation organisation focused on protecting and enhancing the rich natural life of Sussex its focus is on using Nature Recovery Networks to drive Nature’s Recovery across all of Sussex. As such Sussex Wildlife Trust’s role is in encouraging Horsham District Council to make evidence-based decisions using the Nature Recovery Network information that the Wilder Horsham District Project has produced and will continue to refine.

The work prepared by this project will be fed directly into any emerging Local Nature Recovery Strategy, so that it can inform the Nature Recovery Networks being developed by that process.

The Sussex Wildlife Trust will promote Nature’s Recovery in relation to the Council’s other roles and responsibilities, asserting the importance of the network for the ongoing ecological integrity of the district, particularly where the Council’s other duties might result in a competing priorities.

There have already been some successes in protecting and enhancing wildlife, such as the Rewilding project on the Knepp Estate and the restoration of river habitat on the Adur. However, there are certain landscapes and areas of the Horsham District that will be the focus of the work of the partnership. At present these are:

Areas of focus:

  • Hedgerows in the Low Weald (providing important connectivity between fragmented habitats)
  • Woodland - New planting and allowing natural regeneration are important tools in capturing more carbon and helping wildlife
  • The Adur catchment; improve freshwater and floodplain habitats, water quality and flood resilience through working with natural processes
  • Join up key sites, such as joining the Knepp Estate with the woodland to the north-east of Horsham town and The Mens in the west of the District, creating the core of a District-wide ecological network
  • Supporting pollinating insects: Take action to support pollinating insects throughout the District, in both towns and rural areas

Although these are currently the focus of the work, this is likely to change as more information emerges from the work of the Sussex Nature Partnership.

Floodplain woodland planting copyright Fran Southgate

What actions will the partnership take?

There are four headings that will shape the actions of the partnership:

  1. Organisational resilience
  2. Landscape resilience
  3. Community resilience
  4. Legacy

Each of these contribute to the overarching aims of the partnership. The measures of success in the actions listed in each section below are currently outputs from the programme. Proxy measures will be developed to gauge the success of enhancing nature across the District once more analysis has been completed.