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Over £400,000 donated as ReNature Festival kicks into action



Over £400,000 donated as ReNature Festival kicks into action

Adonis Blue Butterfly by Daniel Greenwood

More than £400,000 has been raised so far to help find new spaces for nature in the South Downs National Park.

Exactly one year on from the launch of the ReNature campaign and the fundraising tally continues to rise for the inspiring initiative, which is looking to create an extra 13,000 hectares of habitat where plants and animals can thrive.

Following a “Call for Nature Sites” plea to landowners and community groups last autumn, 59 projects are now being progressed with a view to creating new wildlife habitat. They include entire farms, fields, road verges and old quarries, covering thousands of hectares.

Meanwhile, this month an exciting ReNature festival will take place from 16 to 24 July with the aim of encouraging people to do simple things to help nature thrive, such as picking up litter, creating a wild space in your garden or helping to survey wildlife. Activities will include a microvolunteering beach clean at Seven Sisters, a heathland discovery day and bookable guided walks, as well as a range of inspiring online videos.

As part of the festival, a selection of community groups, including those serving young people and those who may never have accessed the National Park, are being sent ReNature packs, crammed with nature-based goodies and activities.

The public are also being invited to take three “pledges” and share images on social media for the chance to win a day-out at a wildlife venue (Marwell Zoo, RSPB Pulborough Brooks and Arundel Wetland Centre) in the National Park. They will be invited to:

  • Experience nature – share an image of you in the natural world, whether it be the National Park, your local park, or garden!
  • Care for nature – share an image of you looking after nature, such as planting wildflowers or picking up litter.
  • Share the caring for nature message with others (by sharing your images on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram and using hashtag #ReNature)

Andrew Lee, Director of Countryside Policy and Management for the South Downs National Park, said: “It’s been a hugely encouraging start to the ReNature campaign and I’d like to thank each and every farmer, estate, community group and business that has pledged to support it. I think it underlines just how much people cherish nature.

“It’s still very early stages, but we’re working with a diverse range of projects that will eventually create new areas for nature in the National Park. It’s a very exciting notion that within ten years new areas could be teeming with wildlife and increasing the biodiversity of the region. None of this nature recovery work would be possible without the farmers and estates that make up a very significant portion of the National Park – and these land managers will continue to play a pivotal role as we move forward. I’d like to thank all those who have been involved so far for their enthusiasm for the project and look forward to forging new links in the years to come.

“There’s obviously a lot more work to do and much more fundraising to be done, but we’re determined to help reverse biodiversity loss. Nature can thrive anywhere given the right support and we can all work together to make a real difference.”

Orchids at Butser Hill in the South Downs National Park by Lewis Watt

The South Downs National Park currently has 25 per cent of the land managed specifically for nature, such as nature reserves, woods, heaths, ponds and flower-rich road verges. The additional 13,000 hectares would bring this to 33 per cent of land managed for nature – going beyond current UN-backed conservation targets of “30 per cent by 2030” (30 for 30). The National Park Authority also wants to go one step further – ensuring that the remaining 67 per cent of the National Park is nature-friendly by 2030.

The South Downs National Park Trust, the official charity for the National Park, has been leading on the fundraising and has an ambitious target of raising £100m over the next decade to help nature recovery.

Joshua Esan, Engagement and Events Officer for the National Park, said: “We hope everyone can get involved in our festival this month. Each day will focus on a different habitat of the National Park, such as woodland, coast or chalk grassland, and there’ll be lots of interesting things to see, do and learn about. Experience nature, care for it and inspire others!”

To see the programme for the festival, visit www.southdowns.gov.uk/ReNatureFestival2022

To donate to the South Downs National Park Trust’s fundraising appeal visit https://southdowns.enthuse.com/HelpNatureReNature