The Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere works in our area to further the three objectives common to all UNESCO Biosphere Reserves, based upon our Biosphere Management Strategy which covers the five-year period from 2014 to 2019. Our strategy covers a diverse range of topics (see table), spread across the three Biosphere objectives plus cross-cutting issues, which are being addressed by different local bodies.
Our own work as a Biosphere focuses on how we can best add value to local activity, by realising new opportunities, plugging gaps in focus, bringing different organisations together to work in partnership, and engaging people in our local environment.
Our top priorities for action are:
- Environmental awareness – of local people, especially children and young people
- Tourism & Recreation – by visitors and residents, to further economic & social development
- ‘Green Infrastructure’ – enhanced networks of greenspace from town to downs, which provide multiple benefits (‘ecosystem services’) from access to conservation to water management
- Water – improving local water quality, quantity, and public awareness of our groundwater chalk aquifer, as well as coastal/marine environment
- Research & Monitoring – working with universities and others to improve our applied understanding of the local environment
Current projects that we are working on (in 2016) include:
- Creation of pilot “rain gardens” in Portslade parks to help address flood risk
- Being a national case study area to develop a planning tool to take account of “ecosystem services” in developments
- Investigation of the scope for local marine sustainable development projects (“blue growth”) including fisheries and aquaculture potential
- Proposed development of a Biosphere tourism initiative linked to our heritage
- Environmental education sessions for school children on our local water cycle
- Working with local universities to carry out applied research that helps inform management of our Biosphere area
- Re-brand of our Biosphere communications
For a summary of recent projects worked on, see our Biosphere Progress 2015 report.