29 March 2021

We're banking on wildlife haven success

A set of city council ‘B Banks’ have been hailed a huge success after more than 700 different animal and plant species were found on them.

The banks are miniature reconstructions of the grasslands found on the Sussex Downs and have been planted with wildflower species important to bees and butterflies.

The banks also attract hundreds of other insects, making them stand out as busy wildlife havens.

Beautiful B Banks throughout the city

The first B Bank was constructed almost 20 years ago and subsequent ones have been created at 19 different sites around the city, including Dorothy Stringer School, Hove Park, Surrenden, Carden, Hollingdean, Crowhurst, Brighthelm, Swanborough, East Brighton and Roedean.

Together, the areas measure a total of 1.26 hectares, or around two football pitches.  

In a detailed ecological survey on the sites, an incredible 554 different invertebrates, like bugs, flies, beetles, butterflies, larva, moths and spiders, were recorded, including 58 with conservation status, plus a bee which is totally new to Sussex.

With one in 10 wild bee species across Europe facing extinction due in part to habitat loss, the B Banks are providing new and much-needed natural environments for bees to thrive.

Almost 200 different plants also recognised

A total of 191 different plant species were also documented.

Most of the banks were constructed as part of the government funded Nature Improvement Area Program by the council’s City Parks department which looks after and maintains Brighton & Hove’s parks and open spaces.

Cllr Amy Heley, chair of the council’s environment, transport and sustainability committee, said: “The B Banks are having a huge impact on the wildlife in these sites, which is wonderful to see.

‘Project has been a real success story’

“They have been incredible in attracting a huge variety of species into the city, many of which would otherwise only be found out in the countryside. The project is a real success story for our City Parks staff.”

Councillor Gary Wilkinson, opposition lead spokesperson for environment, transport and sustainability, said: “Our natural environment provides a wide variety of important functions and contributes to the health and quality of life of residents, workers and visitors to the city.

“That’s why I am delighted that so much has been achieved with this project, thanks to the hard work of our staff.

“The wildflower rich B Banks of butterflies, bees and other pollinators are helping form part of the councils response to the biodiversity and climate emergencies and support our objective to become a carbon neutral city by the year 2030.”

The survey, carried out last May and July, was commissioned by City Parks, The Living Coast, Brighton & Lewes Downs UNESCO World Biosphere region, and was funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) as part of the development of a large conservation project called Changing Chalk.

The Changing Chalk project aims to conserve, protect and engage people with the rare chalk grassland and heritage sites of the Sussex Downs. 

The project is a partnership of many local organisations led by the National Trust and will be bidding for further NLHF to deliver projects across the Downs over the next few years.

Ten more B Banks could be on the way 

Local projects include Greening the Cities which plans to construct a further ten B Banks, building on the success of the existing city banks which have proved to be so important for supporting our urban biodiversity.

The council is the lead partner of The Living Coast UNESCO Biosphere region