A more Climate-Friendly Parish: Let’s get our voices heard before it’s too late !

Let’s get our voices heard before it’s too late for the sake of our children/grandchildren ! Climate change is already here with some of the changes now inevitable and “irreversible”.

Join the network of Residents (of Birling Gap, Crowlink, East Dean, Friston & Gayles) for a Climate-Friendly Parish (RCFP). Being informal, it allows people to commit to it in whichever way, to whatever level they choose, rather than feel obligated to do something.

Many are convinced more could be done across our parish to contribute to reducing global warming, mitigating and adapting to climate change. It’s in the news a lot now and will continue to do so following the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 9 August publication of its latest global report up to the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow in November. This, the IPCC’s first global assessment on the science of global heating since 2013, is aimed at policymakers and summarises the physical science behind climate change.

With yet more factual information such as this, the RCFP can write with calls to action to key organisations/people with responsibilities for East Dean & Friston:


    •    the South Downs National Park

    •    land managers, the National Trust, Forestry England, tenant farmers

    •    East Dean & Friston Parish Council

    •    other parish landowners, the Davies Gilbert Estate, Wealden District Council, East Sussex County Council

    •    bodies with wider geographical responsibilities, Sussex Wildlife Trust, Friends of the South Downs, the Council for the Protection of Rural England, the South Downs Network  (‘critical friend’ of the SDNPA)

    •    East Dean & Friston Residents’ Association

    •    the local MP.


No time-consuming meetings, membership fees or official roles required ! A letter can simply be drafted by a network member for countersigning by others, if they wish to do so, and sent by email to the intended recipient. Contact ourbitedf@gmail.com.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

 To Deputy Chair, Senior Planning Officer & Neighbourhood Planning Link, Woodland Officer, & Eastern Downs Area Ranger, South Downs National Park Authority.

A climate-friendly parish

We are an emerging group of residents in East Dean and Friston, East Sussex, who are committed to playing an active role in tackling climate change and the biodiversity crisis.

In light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s publication in August this year of its latest global report in the lead up to the United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) now taking place in in Glasgow, we wish to enter into an ongoing, constructive dialogue with the South Downs National Park Authority about global warming, climate change and biodiversity loss, as they affect us.

What is your organisation doing in our parish of East Dean & Friston to address climate change and biodiversity loss ? Please give concrete examples of prevention, mitigation and adaptation. In particular, what impact is the March 2020 SDNPA's Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan, that we welcome, having on our area now ?

We assert our right to know what the SDNPA is doing locally not only as we reside within the National Park but also as the Authority receives government funding paid for out of our national taxpaying contributions. Furthermore, we would highlight the organisation's responsibility to act on climate change and biodiversity through its existing commitments to do so - on behalf of all the communities in our parish.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

Residents for a Climate-Friendly Parish (RCFP)

in Birling Gap, Crowlink, East Dean, Friston & Gayles ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Tuesday 2 November 2021

From: Deputy Chair, South Downs National Park Authority (SDNPA) To: Residents for a Climate-Friendly Parish (RCFP)

Deputy Chair, Senior Planning Officer & Neighbourhood Planning Link, Woodland Officer,

 & Eastern Downs Area Ranger, South Downs National Park Authority

Thank you for your email and letter. Really excited to hear about your group of residents. I

would be very happy to come and talk to you.

All the Authority's work has action on Climate Change and biodiversity loss running through it.

Climate Change

The South Downs National Park Authority’s Climate Change Adaption Plan & Strategy is

at https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/national-park-authority/our-work/climate-change- adaptation-plan-strategy/ The strategy aims for the Authority to be Net Zero by 2030 and the National Park as a whole by 2040.

Biodiversity Loss

The Government’s 25 yr Environment Plan, published in 2018, set out the concept of Nature Recovery Networks, and the Environment Bill will create the statutory framework within which all this activity will take place. Nature Recovery Networks created by Local Nature

  Recovery Strategies will be coordinated at a local level through public bodies, hopefully the protected landscape authorities responsible for National Parks (NPs) and Areas of Outstanding National Beauty (AONBs).

South Downs Nature Recovery Campaign, ReNature

Within the South Downs NP, this year saw the launch of the South Downs Nature Recovery Campaign, #ReNature: its ambition is to increase the area managed for nature in the National Park from the current 25% to at least 33%, which will be an increase of 13,000ha, by 2030. This is based upon the Government’s own national commitment of 30% of the UK being managed for nature by 2030.

Initial activity this summer (2020) was on raising awareness for the 33% by 2030 ambition, inspiring & mobilising landowners and securing the £100m investment needed through

public, private and charitable finance.

There was a presentation at the SDNPA parish workshop earlier in the summer (2020) and a parish webinar in October on the subject. This can be viewed

at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqDskPHbPlA

There has been great interest across all media and the animation film “The Night we Renatured the South Downs” has been played in cinemas and so far has had over 114,000 views.

Information about the South Downs Nature Recovery Campaign, ReNature, is at https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/renature/

This is a 10 year campaign, so we are at the very early stages.

As the NP owns no land, apart from South Downs Centre (SDC) in Midhurst and Seven Sisters Country Park (SSCP), the next step in the campaign was a “Call for Nature Sites’ in November 2021. This will identify sites which have the potential to deliver nature recovery. Land managers and communities across the NP will be invited to put forward sites & projects, small or large, at any scale or stage of development.

The SDNPA will then provide:

specialist expertise to guide and develop projects

a ‘matchmaker/broker’ role to connect projects with one or more funding


This is not a proposal for the SDNPA to acquire land itself.

There is a Nature Recovery digital resource hub at https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/renature/ for people to get information & support for renaturing projects or to donate to the campaign.

The SDNPA took over the SSCP at the end of July 2021. Central to the management of the Country Park is to restore the chalk grassland habitats there. Plumpton College was awarded the initial 2 year grazing license after a competitive tendering process. They will be providing conservation grazing starting off with approx 30 Sussex Cattle from late October/early November 2021 (that number will increase). This 2 year grazing licence will enable significant improvements in the highly important chalk grassland on the site as well as in the wet grassland. Healthier habitats will store more carbon. A lot of this area has been over grazed and needs to rest, whilst others are in a very poor state with large amounts of Tor grass that need cattle grazing to get on top of.

The SDNP doesn’t own any land apart from the SDC & now the SSCP, so we need landowners or communities to come forward in response to our Call for Sites with areas they would like to put forward to manage for nature.

Farming in Protected Landscapes (FiPL) Programme

Alongside this work, Defra launched in July, the Farming in Protected Landscapes

(FiPL) Programme. Through this programme, farmers and land managers within protected landscapes can apply for funding to carry out one-off projects that:

support nature recovery

mitigate the impacts of climate change

provide opportunities for people to discover, enjoy and understand the landscape and

cultural heritage

support nature-friendly, sustainable farm businesses.

Initial interest across the National Park has been high with 58 enquiries in the first three months. Projects put forward have varied from infrastructure to facilitate effective conservation grazing, machinery to reduce inputs and better manage natural resources, farm diversifications to produce value added products to sell more locally, data collection and project planning. Do ask farmers in your area if they have pitched in !

In Litlington, Duncan Ellis, who farms across from Alfriston to Friston, is switching to regenerative farming practices and uses conservation grazing methods. There is also collaboration happening between Natural England and SDNPA on restoring Lullington Heath, which Duncan grazes with ponies.

Next Steps

There are starting to be quite a few community-based groups willing to take on renaturing projects in their area.

The RCFP could also lobby local landowners/farmers in the parish to:

respond to the SDNP’s Call for Nature Sites to develop a renaturing project

apply to Defra for protected landscapes funding.

Thank you so much, Residents for a Climate-Friendly Parish, for your enthusiasm. It’s all of us working to gather that will make change happen.

Comments from RCFP Convenor

This was the first reply to our letter and received less than an hour after it had arrived, so very prompt and a promising start.

I plan to:

meet the Deputy Chair before Xmas to continue this dialogue

write to East Dean & Friston Parish Council and the East Dean Greensward

Ltd./East Dean & Friston Residents' Association to notify them that the RCFP will nominate Friston Pond and the Greensward as Local Nature Sites for better management and as projects for them to take forward respectively on behalf of parish communities

get hold of contact addresses for local farmers who use land within the parish in order to take forward the Deputy Chairs’ lobbying suggestions.


Tuesday 2 November 2021

From: Woodland Officer, South Downs National Park Authority

To: Residents for a Climate-Friendly Parish (RCFP)

From a trees/woodland perspective, it may be better for my colleague, the Strategic Lead for Woodlands at the SDNPA, to liaise with you.

Having said that, a quick GIS survey of the existing woodland and tree cover in the parish reveals that it has fairly high coverage in comparison with most of the eastern end of the National Park with 17.6% cover. The England average is 10.1%, the whole SDNP is 23% and the eastern area of the SDNP is 9.9%. You could probably add another 5% for the canopy cover from trees outside of woods including within the village but don’t quote me on that figure as the data I have on this may not be completely reliable.

You are probably aware that over half the parish is owned by two owners: (i) South East Water that leased Friston Forest to Forestry England and (ii) the National Trust. Both these organisations will have commitments to climate change and biodiversity loss, so again the parish is already ahead compared with many others.

In terms of my own work as part of the SDNPA/Woodland Trust partnership, I have surveyed a couple of the small blocks of ancient woodland in the parish earlier in the year but have yet to write up my notes and recommendations. Management of existing woodlands is as important as woodland creation in terms of climate change and biodiversity loss.

I am happy to discuss any of this further.

Next Steps

The RCFP could approach both Forestry England and the National Trust to find out more about their activities.

Comments from RCFP Convenor

This response came within four hours of our letter being received, so very promising !

As you’ll see below, the Landscape & Biodiversity Strategy Lead for Woodlands also replied at about the same time.

  I plan to”

reply to discuss further woodland cover and management in the parish

 get hold of contact addresses for the appropriate individuals at Forestry England and the National Trust.

Tuesday 2 November 2021

From: Landscape & Biodiversity Strategy Lead (Woodlands), South Downs National Park Authority

To: Residents for a Climate-Friendly Parish (RCFP)

Happy to discuss anything related to trees/woodlands.

Comments from RCFP Convenor

I’ll copy this officer into my correspondence with the Woodland Officer so that we can find out whether the SDNPA plans to do more about trees in our parish as part of its strategic plans for climate change and for biodiversity loss.