What is
The Living Coast?

Watch the video

3 mins

The Living Coast is a UNESCO World Biosphere Region. It embraces a wonderfully biodiverse stretch of the chalky South Downs and Sussex coast between the River Adur at Shoreham-by-Sea and the River Ouse at Newhaven.

The Living Coast aims to be a thriving environment for all. A place where people can connect with nature and live well together, enjoying, celebrating and reinvigorating the natural wonders of our shared home.

Photo by Liz Finlayson/Vervate The Living Coast, the Brighton & Lewes Downs UNESCO Biosphere Region includes land and sea from Shoreham to Newhaven.  Telscombe Tye - Youngsters using a magnifying glass

More than


of a million people

live within The Living Coast

The Living Coast



making it about the same size as the

Isle of Wight

More than


people visit

The Living Coast each year

What is a biosphere?

The biosphere is our global ecosystem – it’s the zone of life on earth. It’s the world we share with other living organisms and encompasses everything that’s needed to sustain that life: the soil, the air we breathe, the water and everything else we need to survive.

A biosphere reserve (or biosphere region) is an area designated by UNESCO to inspire a positive future for people and nature, by considering everything that’s needed to make life sustainable.

Biospheres exist to help us learn how best to balance biodiversity and sustainable development.

Why is The Living Coast a biosphere?

Within The Living Coast, the chalk grasslands of the South Downs National Park meet the English Channel. This chalk block extends beneath the shingle beaches and the waves into a Marine Conservation Zone. These geological features make The Living Coast a remarkably biodiverse region.

The Living Coast includes

Marine Conservation Zone


The River Ouse and the River Adur


City & Towns and Coast

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

2 are National Nature Reserves

Chalk grasslands, dry chalk valleys, floodplain meadows, vegetated shingle beaches, river estuaries and chalk reefs are home to thousands of species, among them rare plants and wildlife. Gems as varied as the Adonis blue butterfly and the shy short-snouted seahorse, the early spider orchid and the skilful hovering skylark.

Of the 700+ UNESCO biospheres worldwide, The Living Coast is one of a handful that includes a large urban area – Brighton & Hove. This gives us an outstanding opportunity to support projects that pioneer ways to balance the daily needs of people and nature.

The region was designated the Brighton & Lewes Downs UNESCO World Biosphere Region in 2014 and is branded as The Living Coast.

Watch the full video – 13mins

Learn more about our vision for The Living Coast Biosphere and our key themes in our Biosphere Management Strategy.

Our objectives

  • Conserve and enhance nature
  • Support sustainable human development

Our work

Our projects span nature conservation, sustainable socio-economic development and environmental awareness. Anything from greening urban spaces and improving water quality, to promoting active travel and biocultural tourism, to research about our environment.

Learning to share

In everything we do, there’s a focus on learning how people and nature can flourish together for generations to come. We work with other organisations and projects that are doing the same, and share what we learn with others locally, nationally and through the global community of biospheres.

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