Wildlife trust needs your help to secure the future of ‘special nature reserve’ near Petworth

“This is a positive thing in the context of the pandemic — it allows people to make a difference for the future.”

That was the message from Sussex Wildlife Trust, which is urgently looking to raise £50,000 to benefit Ebernoe Common, near Petworth. 

The wildlife trust is appealing for help from the public to secure the future of more than 24 hectares of ancient woodland to the north and west of the woodland reserve.

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In an open letter, the trust’s president Dr Tony Whitbread wrote: “Next year is the 60th anniversary of Sussex Wildlife Trust and the purchase of this woodland would be a wonderful way to celebrate.

Sussex Wildlife Trust president Dr Tony Whitbread said the purchase of the neighbouring woodland at Ebernoe Common would be a 'wonderful way to celebrate' the trust's 60th anniversary next year. Pic Steve Robards SR2011231 SUS-201123-212104001

“The new woodland will need careful management to enhance its biodiversity in the coming years and we will be monitoring it with regular ecological surveys. Securing funding for the ongoing management costs is also a crucial part of making this purchase possible.

“Please support our appeal today and help leave a lasting legacy for the people of Sussex to be proud of.”

Dan Ross, director of land management at the Sussex Wildlife Trust, said it is an ‘incredible opportunity’ to improve the nature reserve for wildlife and visitors. 

He said: “During the pandemic, the wildlife trust has been working very hard to keep safely doing what we can. People are turning to wildlife for solace, inspiration, calmness and serenity.

The wildlife trust is appealing for help from the public to secure the future of more than 24 hectares of ancient woodland to the north and west of the woodland reserve. Pic Steve Robards SR2011231 SUS-201123-212211001

“Woodlands are incredibly important.

“Our work carries on and we want to carry on for the long term. We have to think about what we are doing to secure our precious landscape for future generations.

“This is an ideal time for people to think about that and beyond what’s happening at the moment.

“It’s a positive thing in the context of the pandemic – it allows people to make a difference for the future. We need people’s support.”

Dan Ross, director of land management, said the trust has to 'think about what we are doing to secure our precious landscape for future generations'. Pic Steve Robards SR2011231 SUS-201123-212200001

Sussex Wildlife Trust has 32 nature reserves across the county. 

“Many of our nature reserves are unique,” Mr Ross said. “They are some of the most special and protected places within Sussex.

“We are in a quite challenging world, with bio-diversity decline continuing. Everything we do is about improving prospects for wildlife. 

“We always seek opportunities where possible to improve our nature reserves. A bigger nature reserve normally is better then a smaller one. 

Mr Ross said this is an ‘incredible opportunity’ to improve the nature reserve for wildlife and visitors. Pic Steve Robards SR2011231 SUS-201123-212116001

“The opportunity to buy an adjacent woodland has come up and we are really looking at the long term costs of managing this land.

“We need to know exactly what we’ve got on site and Ebernoe is special because of its vast population. There’s lots of rare bat species.

“It’s a really special place. We want to manage the woodland properly and restore it towards its ecological best.”

Mr Ross said £50,000 is not a ‘definitive’ target but ‘we have to start somewhere’.

He added: “The cost of managing any land is expensive but particularly woodlands. If we want to make a real difference, we have to intervene in an intensive way. 

“It will help us to buy it, make it safe and improve the habitat long-term.

The aim of the project is to restore Ebernoe Common 'towards its ecological best'. Pic Steve Robards SR2011231 SUS-201123-212222001

“They are generational habitats and we have to manage them for hundreds of years.”

If you would like to donate, please visit: sussexwildlifetrust.org.uk/ancientwoodlandappeal

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Dr Tony Whitbread said the new woodland will need 'careful management to enhance its biodiversity in the coming year'. Pic Steve Robards SR2011231 SUS-201123-212138001