Update from District Councillor John Cross

Spring has arrived, my favourite time of the year, that vivid lime colour on the trees and hedge leaves.  So vibrant, and short lived.  Spring is a renaissance, a renewal, a rebirth, everything comes back to life, and we are very fortunate to live in a National Park where there is great effort being put into protecting the landscape. So, for this edition, I thought Id concentrate on what the South Downs National Park is doing to help biodiversity and enhancing the landscape.

As one of my Chichester District Council roles I represent CDC on the South Downs National Park Authority and last week we had one of general meetings where the work of the South Downs National Park Trust was discussed and reviewed.   The trust is the charitable arm of the Park and give money to help achieve the aims and objectives of the National Park. For example, obtaining Green Finance for securing 324 hectares of land for nature, restoring 10 ponds, restoring 8.36km of hedging, planting 31 thousand trees (16,000 for the Downs).  I can go on and on about the work this Trust is achieving to improve the National Park.

Clearly, this is not all about the ploughing money into flora and fauna, much of the 1.4m that the Trust raises each year is used to engage communities in and around the Park. Over 40% of that funding is spent on engaging communities and improving their experience. This funding is focussed on improving walking and cycle access, for example near us the Centurion walk is now nearing completion of a new 6km route from East Dean to Cocking. The hope is to continue the Centurion Way all the way to Midhurst, opening a new pedestrian and cycle route from Chichester to Midhurst. Other projects include working with schools on various mini conservation grants and initiatives to support youth volunteering.   If you want to help, young or old the Rangers of the Park are always needing extra hands.   Finally, I wanted to give a ‘Shout Out’ for the Sustainable Communities and Volunteer Fund.  This fund gives support and funding to community led projects that promote the aims of the park in enhancing and protecting the landscape. One such project in this Ward, Botany Bay Conservancy Community Interest Group, in Graffham, has received funding to ecologically restore a meadow and for tree planting projects too.

I hope this has been helpful, there are funding sources that can help your community if it coincides with the aims of the South Downs National Park.