Eco-Logically in Sussex

With over twenty years involvement in nature conservation in southern England I have an in-depth knowledge of the habitats, species and geomorphological features that are important in this area.

Woodland and Parkland are particularly important habitats in The Weald, that area between the North and South Downs which intrinsically remains 'The English Countryside'.

Oak Quercus robur and Ash Fraxinus excelsior frequently dominate the woodland canopy. However a few areas, such as Ebernoe Common, are dominated by Beech Fagus sylvatica which casts a deeper shade.


Weald bluebell woodland in spring. (c) Eco-Logically, 1998

Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta take advantage of the brief vernal light in spring in a Sussex Wealden wood. 'The Mens' is the largest remaining section of Ancient Woodland in Sussex retaining many ecological features dating back to mediaeval times.
  Parham Park with 'Veteran Tree', (c) Eco-Logically, 2003

Parham Park
is one of the many ancient deer parks that survive in Sussex. Their oldest trees were historically pollarded to provide a supply of smaller wooden poles above the teeth of grazing deer.

Despite the Great Storm in 1987 and subsequent storms these old oaks, beech and chestnut trees survived through well developed root systems and a comparatively small 'sail area' of leafy branches.
Rotting tree stump

Unusual and rare invertebrates remain in these trees and decomposing wood that provides a unique habitat many centuries later.


A shallow Wealden gill that was created by the gradual erosion of the gill stream over the soft clay and sandstone. Wood anemone Anemone nemerosa carpets the forest floor in spring and Tonbridge filmy-fern Hymenophyllum tunbridgense survives on nearby sandstone rocks. Many centuries later a settlement develops at Handscross.

Having been involved in many aspects of woodland and parkland management across Sussex has provided a comprehensive knowledge on these important habitats.

Undertaking a woodland survey is always the first stage in considering future management options. This can be done at several levels but should link with National standards and survey techniques.

Click here to download table of key indicator plants most commonly associated with woodland NVC categories in the south:
  (file size 10kb)

Weald gill stream in woodland, with wood anenome in foreground. (c) Eco-Logically, 1995
Gill (or 'Ghyll') woodlands also remain hidden away in the Weald of Sussex, Kent and Surrey. Situated on steep, sticky clay soil these woodlands escaped the saw and plough over many millenia and today retain a unique flora originating in the 'Atlantic' period seven-thousand years ago.

The people connection

Too often a seemingly inseperable division is made between people and nature. Commercial developments proceed with minimal reference to the surrounding environment. Nature reserves are designated with minimal reference to the surrounding people.

Living in towns and cities brings many advantages...
Brighton Pavilion, (c) Eco-Logically, 2001
however we have
often lost contact
and the pleasure
the natural world
can bring us

In Brighton the green areas of parkland and the grass by Brighton Pavilion
is cut short regularly and frequently which prevents more unusual plants from surviving.

Shepherd's needle (Scandix pecten-veneris) on Brighton sea-cliff. (c) Eco-Logically, 2004
Shepherd's needle Scandix pecten-veneris is a nationally scarce plant found near Brighton Marina. Within the city's boundary there is much unusual and interesting wildlife waiting to be discovered.

Through my involvement with the City Council's Wildlife Advisory Group (where I have been Chair and vice-Chair since 2003) I have discovered more about the natural environment right on the doorstep.

There is clearly much that can be done to help people learn more about their local environment, and now there is a great deal of interest in environmental issues.

One area that Brighton & Hove can usefully progress is a 'Local Biodiversity Action Plan'. These Plans have been put in place by many Local Authorities in partnership with other statutory agencies and local businesses. They are the primary means for progressing the UK commitments to the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) following the first international 'Earth Summit'.

  click here for recommendations on preparing a LBAP
  click here for UK Biodiversity information

Urban Wildlife

Urban wildlife includes both the more common species typical for Brighton...
Urban 'seagulls' in Brighton! (c) Eco-Logically, 2000

As well as the rare and beautiful...

Adonis blue butterfly on downland in Brighton, (c) Eco-Logically, 1995
Adonis blue is a butterfly listed as 'a priority species' on the UKBAP list. On the South Downs strong populations may still be seen in early summer.

Thick-legged flower beetle (Oedemera nobilis) on bramble flower, Stanmer Park Brighton. (c) Eco-Logically, 1997
The accurate, if somewhat inelegantly named 'Thick-legged flower beetle' Oedemera nobilis is a small attractive beetle that feeds as a larva by boring into old wood. The metallic green adults suck the nectar from flowers such as this bramble Rubus fruticosus


updated: June 2007

© All images and text, Eco-Logically, 2004