Map of biosphere

Biosphere Zones

Three types of zones are identified under the UNESCO Biosphere Region designation.

Core Areas – these are strict areas of protection for nature conservation.

They are made up of 14 Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) which lie almost entirely within the South Downs National Park and form a ‘string of pearls’ in their distribution. They are home to a rich mixture of rare orchid wild flowers, butterflies, birds and geological interest.

Two of these sites – Castle Hill and Mount Caburn – are also designated as National Nature Reserves and European Special Areas of Conservation for their chalk grassland wildlife interest.

Buffer Zones –these are larger areas around the core areas that are looked after through sustainable management. On land, this is the rural South Downs National Park, and in the sea it is the Marine Conservation Zone of ‘Beachy Head West’ – the western section of which runs along the coast between Brighton Marina and Newhaven.

Transition Areas – these are where most people live and work, and they represent ‘test beds’ for sustainable development.

On land they are made up of the urban areas of Brighton & Hove, Lewes, Newhaven, Peacehaven, Shoreham, Southwick and Telscombe. Sustainable development happens here through more wildlife rich housing estates, parks and open spaces, healthy local food production and greener built development for example.

The rest of the sea makes up the marine transition area, which can supply sustainable fish for local consumption.

See the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere detailed map for more information on our zonation.