What is the project about?
This project, funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is working with Brighton & Hove City Council and the South Downs National Park Authority to create twelve dewponds, working closely with land managers to achieve conservation goals. The project is also working with local communities to create Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridors, improving local green spaces, parks and school grounds for wildlife. Alongside the habitat work, the project is delivering a wide ranging programme of public engagement, including working with local groups to gather wildlife memories and exhibit these as part of an audio-visual display across 12 venues in 2023.
What are the aims?
This project is addressing the loss of dewponds in the South Downs. It is estimated that 39% of the dewponds in this region have been lost, and many more are no longer visible in the landscape. In addition to reversing these losses, the project is raising awareness amongst local residents of the importance of dewponds to wildlife, particularly amphibians. The volunteer training programme offered by the project is designed to equip volunteers to manage dewponds for wildlife and Froglife is delivering a total of 183 events across the region, with over 4,000 residents helping with Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridors and over 600 children benefitting from sessions in schools by the time the project closes in 2024.
What are we doing through the Discovering Dewponds project?
Habitat Restoration: We are restoring and creating twelve dewponds across the South Downs at Stanmer Park, Saddlescombe Farm, Newtimber Hill, Devils Dyke and the Ouse Estuary Nature Reserve. This work will provide vital habitats for our amphibian species and a wide range of other aquatic wildlife. We are also enhancing the surrounding terrestrial habitats with wildflower areas, basking banks and hibernacula, which will support amphibian migration as well as our reptile species.
Volunteering: We are running two-day volunteer training workshops focusing on amphibian and reptile ID, survey techniques and habitat management to help us support and monitor the habitat sites. We are also conducting volunteer sessions to carry out practical works such as scrub clearance and the building of hibernacula and basking sites. Request to join our volunteer mailing list by emailing Will at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wildlife Gardening Workshops: These are fun interactive workshops offering an introduction to our amphibian and reptile species and how we can manage our gardens or allotments to benefit them and other wildlife. We are really enjoying delivering workshops across Sussex and the South Downs, helping people to create homes for wildlife such as ‘Toad Abodes’ and ‘Bug Hotels’ as well as providing useful tips and tricks for encouraging them into our greenspaces.
Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridors: We are working with local communities to improve habitat connectivity through the three key areas of Moulsecoomb & Bevendean, Coldean and Hollingbury & Hollingdean. We want to encourage more ponds, bug hotels, wildlife homes and more. Creating even small features for wildlife that connect gardens to country parks and nature reserves is key in keeping our amphibian and reptile populations safe.
Take a look at our interactive Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridor (NWC) Map below and click the icons to see existing wildlife habitats in the area alongside habitats created as part of the project. Find further information and get involved by registering habitats through the NWC survey form here.
Dewpond Celebration Days: We are excited to be holding three Dewpond Celebration Days to showcase the pond restoration work undertaken by the Discovering Dewponds project. Thanks to those who joined us at our first Celebration Day at One Garden, Stanmer Park on Sunday 3rd September 2023 and took part in wildlife ‘rummages’, followed our wildlife and natural art trail to a restored dewpond, learned more about amphibians, reptiles and other wildlife from Froglife’s information stands & partner organisations and got creative at a pop-up art workshop with Schools Without Walls!
See our events page here for upcoming project events.
Art Workshops: Working with partners Schools Without Walls, we are holding a series of art sessions with local schools and community groups. These have provided children with an opportunity to learn about dewponds and the wildlife they support, and interpret this information creatively by making clay dragonfly and papier-mâché frog sculptures, a model hibernaculum and even a model dewpond! We’re delighted to be displaying this artwork through art & nature trails at three ‘Dewpond Celebration Days’, the first held in September 2023.
Reminiscence Project: We are holding 12 reminiscence sessions with older people to discuss their wildlife memories of Sussex, the South Downs and beyond, of which some will be recorded and subsequently displayed as part of an artistic and informative audio-visual display touring 12 venues in 2023 & 2024. These sessions offer space for older residents of the area to share their memories of nature and resultantly will provide people of all ages with the chance to learn how our natural heritage, and relationship with it, has changed throughout our recent history.
Reptile and Amphibian Talks: We are running talks where you can learn more about the history and significance of dewponds for people and wildlife, how to ID our amphibian and reptile species and about habitat management techniques for wildlife.
Toad Summits: These are a chance for local community toad patrols to meet, share ideas and to encourage new patrols. Toad patrols are incredibly important as a means of common toad conservation, as patrollers help toads to return to their ancestral breeding ponds each spring by transporting them across roads.
We hosted our inaugural South-East Toad Summit on 5th February 2022, which, despite being held online as a COVID-19 precaution, was a resounding success. We were really pleased to be able to hold our second South-East Toad Summit in person at Adastra Hall, Hassocks, on Saturday 28th January 2023. The summit was attended by toad patrollers from across the local area, sharing their ideas and expertise with each other to increase the effectiveness of their own efforts. The afternoon additionally featured informative talks from speakers including ecologist & author Hugh Warwick, Froglife trustee Xavier Mahele, Froglife’s Conservation, Evaluation & Research Manager Jenny Tse-Leon and Brighton toad patroller Paolo Oprandi. The programme of speakers was accompanied by information stands provided by Anne at Hurst Hedgehog Haven and Amanda from Kent Reptile & Amphibian Group and supported by activities that offered attendees the chance to put their toad knowledge to the test and vocalise their thoughts, advice and questions on toad patrolling. A big thank you to all that attended the summit & we look forward to next year!
You can get involved with a local toad patrol by visiting Froglife’s Toads on Roads page and using our interactive map to find your nearest toad crossing. If you know of a stretch of road in Sussex where toads are known to cross in the early spring and there is no toad patrol set up, please register a crossing and make a positive difference for common toads in the area.
How to get involved with the Discovering Dewponds Project:
We’d like to get as many people as possible involved with the project and there lots of ways you can do so, from volunteering at our dewpond restoration sites or our events to hosting a talk or a workshop.
If you’d like to volunteer with the project, through habitat management, habitat restoration and species surveying workshops, or simply be kept in the loop about up and coming project news and events, please don’t hesitate to contact us at the email address provided below.
Give Brighton’s urban wildlife a helping hand by joining in with the Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridor (NWC) project and contributing to our Wildlife Corridor Map here. Additionally, if you know of or are involved with a greenspace that could be made more wildlife-friendly in Moulsecoomb & Bevendean, Coldean or Hollingbury & Hollingdean in Brighton, we’d love to hear from you and help to create or restore a wildlife pond or habitat here.
Please get in touch with our Project Manager email@example.com.
With thanks to our Funders