In 2018, Brighton & Hove City Council declared a climate and biodiversity crisis. Since then, we have been working hard to boost biodiversity, for example by wilding a former council golf course at Waterhall and launching a rainscape at Wild Park.
To the north of Brighton & Hove is the South Downs, a rare chalk grassland and rich habitat for pollinators such as bees and butterflies. These species are in decline both nationally and locally, so council initiatives such as wildflower verges and bee banks aim to encourage pollinators from the Downs into the city.
Children across Brighton & Hove have joined efforts to protect nature, with more than 30 schools taking part in the ‘City of Meadows’ project. They created a micro, mini or medium meadow on their site, with pupils, staff and parents clearing the ground and sowing local chalk grassland seed.
Stanmer Wildflower Conservation Society also provided wildflower plugs thanks to funding from the South Downs National Park Trust.
In total, an additional 1,000 square meters of wildflower habitat has been created in school grounds in the city. Many schools have small playgrounds with limited green space, however they have found creative solutions: sowing their seed in pots, raised beds and even a wheelbarrow.
Inspiring young minds to take action
Councillor Hannah Clare, Chair of the Children, Young People & Skills Committee, said: “This project is a fantastic example of how we can inspire young minds to take action and join us in our fight against the biodiversity crisis.
“Brighton & Hove is part of the UK’s only UNESCO-designated urban biosphere, so it’s crucial that we do everything we can to protect bees, butterflies and other pollinators which play an important role in our food system.
“By protecting local ecosystems, we can begin to restore our relationship with the planet and in turn help to tackle the climate crisis and create a more sustainable future for Brighton & Hove.”
Giving hope to young people
The City of Meadows project is run through Brighton & Hove Environmental Education (BHee) programme, funded by Brighton & Hove City Council and delivered by Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Katie Eberstein, Brighton & Hove Environmental Education Officer, said: “We’ve been able spread important messages about nature, pollinators and how to take action to help wildlife through online teacher information sessions, assemblies to share with the whole school, and pollinator workshops with pupils.
“We’ve surveyed thousands of local young people and from this we know they care about nature, but also fear for its survival. In a time when so many young people are suffering eco-anxiety, this project not only gives hope for nature, but also gives hope to young people, giving them an opportunity to take action for wildlife and make a difference.”
Photo credit: Miles Davies, Sussex Wildlife Trust