This year marks the 30th anniversary of Benfield Hill Local Nature Reserve, Brighton & Hove’s oldest designated Local Nature Reserve.
Sitting on the urban fringe of Hove and forming a key gateway to the South Downs, it’s popular with ramblers, walkers, and dog walkers alike.
Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group
The area is supported by a voluntary group that protects and promotes Benfield Hill and engages with the local community.
The Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group also works closely with other organisations such as Buglife, Froglife and the Field Studies Council.
To mark the site’s anniversary, the Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group has been raising awareness of this unique habitat and its rich biodiversity. This includes developing partnerships and collaborations and delivering talks, walks and surveys.
Photo credit: Neil Jenkins
As one of the area’s richest surviving remnants of old chalk grassland, it supports a range of wildlife such as orchids, adders and glowworms. Benfield Hill is also home to several rare species, including a thriving population of endangered Hazel Dormice.
The Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group found an Orange Conch moth earlier this year, a species with just a handful of sightings in Sussex over the last 100 years. More recently, Hornet robberflies were sighted, which had been known to only 40 breeding sites in the UK.
Benefitting local wildlife
Councillor Tim Rowkins, Chair of the City Environment, South Downs and The Sea Committee, said: “Benfield Hill is our oldest Local Nature Reserve, so it’s very important that we look after it long into the future.
“Chalk grassland is extremely effective in supporting biodiversity, and we are working across the South Downs to restore these habitats as part of the City Downland Estate Plan, which we launched in September.
“Protecting our natural environment is an important part of the solution to the climate and biodiversity crises.
“Sites such as Benfield Hill help to capture carbon from the atmosphere and support the recovery of our natural systems. Having these beautiful locations on our doorstep is great for our health and wellbeing, and I’d like to thank Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group for all their work.”
Sally Wadsworth, Chair of the Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group, said: “We can’t do this without all the members, volunteers, partners, supporters who help us, and we are always on the lookout for people who want to get involved and make a difference.”