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 nine 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 pubic 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 benefiting 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 nine dewponds across the South Downs at Stanmer Park, Saddlescombe Farm, Newtimber Hill, Devils Dyke and Truleigh Hill. Once completed, these works 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.
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 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 logging habitats through the NWC survey form here.
Reminiscence Sessions: We are running sessions with older people to discuss capture their wildlife memories in Sussex and the South Downs, which we will transform into an artistic and informative audio/visual display that will tour 12 venues across the region in 2023. This will offer space for older residents of the area to share their memories of nature and resultantly provide people of all ages with a chance to learn how our natural landscape 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 and 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 Sussex Toad Summit on 5th February 2022, which, despite being held online as a COVID-19 precaution, was a resounding success. It 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. We therefore really look forward to the second Sussex Toad Summit in early 2023, of which details will be made available closer to the time. If you know of a road in the Sussex area where toads are known to cross each year and there is no toad patrol set-up, please get in touch through Froglife’s Toads on Roads page to register a new site and make a massive difference for common toads.
How to get involved:
There are a number of ways you can get involved, from volunteering on our habitat sites or helping out at 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.
Join in with the Neighbourhood Wildlife Corridor (NWC) project and contribute to the NWC Map here. Additionally, if you know of or are involved in 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