Our Biosphere is Here!

by Sarah Dobson Designation

Yes - we've done it - we are now a UNESCO World Biosphere site! Today saw the first completely new Biosphere site in the UK established for almost forty years and the first ever in south-east England. The Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere was awarded this designation by UNESCO’s International Coordinating Council (ICC) of the ‘Man and the Biosphere’ (MAB) programme, which met in Sweden earlier today (11th June 2014). It joins a global network of more than 600 “world-class environments” in over 100 countries, and is one of only a handful worldwide to include a city. Achieving the status of a new World Biosphere site follows six years’ work by the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere partnership to develop its bid. The partnership of some forty organisations, with Brighton & Hove City Council as a lead partner, includes other local authorities, public bodies, voluntary, educational and community organisations and private sector business. Martin Price, Chair of theUK National Committee for UNESCO’s Man & the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, reports from the UNESCO meeting in Sweden: “I am very glad to say that the decision was taken today to approve the Brighton & Lewes Downs as a new Biosphere for the UK, so it is now a globally-recognised site of excellence where many individuals and organisations work in partnership to foster all aspects of sustainable development across the region.” Chair of the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere partnership, Chris Todd says: “This is world recognition for the fantastic environment we have here and for all the hard work that local people put into looking after it. Now we have this accolade, we aim to build on the partnership to do even greater things. This is not about telling people what to do but creating a vision for the future. More and more people are living in cities and we need to find ways of making them more pleasant places to live. We need to make sure that we build nature into the equation while raising awareness of how the natural environment contributes to our wealth and well-being.” Jeremy Burgess, Eastern Downs Area Manager for the South Downs National Park and Vice Chair of the Biosphere partnership said: “Getting Biosphere status for this part of the South Downs and surrounding area is a great achievement. It means that an area already protected nationally for its special landscapes has been recognised internationally for the importance of its wildlife and the role it can play in improving quality of life and boosting a greener economy for the millions of people who live around it. The National Park isn’t an island and we hope that Biosphere status will help us reach out and encourage more visits, research and investment across the area.” Thanks to all the organisations and individuals who have supported us to achieve this international recognition for our area - now we have to sustain and develop further our status as a 'world-class environment'!


  • What a fantastic achievement. Well done to all of you. We are in Mayfield which is sadly outside this biosphere zone but we run a holiday home on our 30 acre smallholding and will happily provide a link to your site from ours. Our holiday home is already featured by “Our Land” which is a government run initiative to attract environmentally friendly holiday homes and holiday makers to areas such as ours which is an AONB. Now that the AONB joins to a Biosphere zone via a National Park, we are well set up!!!

    11 Jun 2014 22:01:31

  • Peter Usher:

    I hope the main partners of the Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere Project will strongly oppose inappropriate housing development on the urban fringe of Brighton. Particularly on the main gateway routes to the South Downs National Park, specifically, adjacent to the eastern side of the bridle path that runs north from the top (eastern) end of Whiteway Lane, Rottingdean. The vista from this primary access route to the SDNP would be severely compromised (ruined!) if the field was developed into high density housing. I recently spoke to a professional photographer (I was walking my dog) who was filming the site (he was reluctant to say for whom) who mentioned to me that a Pre Planning application was already in to develop high density housing in the field. If it goes ahead, it will make a mockery of planning policy that is in place to protect what little we have left of the countryside around Brighton.

    12 Jun 2014 14:08:44

  • I echo Peter Usher’s remarks re. housing developments. It’s wonderful that SDNP managed to gain UNESCO’s Biosphere recognition. In Stanmer Park, however, a protected area, a “millionaire’s village” continues to develop. We definitely need affordable housing but this kind of development in a protected area is not acceptable. Brighton & Hove Council must stop allowing the continued builds, unless they are affordable housing. Even building affordable housing is going against the ethic of protected land, that everyone should be able to enjoy. It’s clear more planning and discussion, with the people living and working in the proposed areas, should be able to be involved.

    15 Mar 2015 15:11:55

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