Increasing Biodiversity in Rother

Details of our current state of biodiversity loss, and what can be done to avoid the devastating future the planet faces as a result.

Following on from 2019’s hugely impactful State of Nature Report, at the Start of February the UK Government released “The Dasgupta Review” – an independent, global review on the Economics of Biodiversity led by Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta. The report explores how and why we’ve reached our current state of biodiversity loss, and what can be done to avoid the devastating future the planet faces as a result. The warnings and statistics contained within the report are stark, perhaps none more so than on the report’s opening page:

“Today, we ourselves, together with the livestock we rear for food, constitute 96% of the mass of all mammals on the planet. Only 4% is everything else – from elephants to badgers, from moose to monkeys. And 70% of all birds alive at this moment are poultry – mostly chickens for us to eat. We are destroying biodiversity, the very characteristic that until recently enabled the natural world to flourish so abundantly. If we continue this damage, whole ecosystems will collapse. That is now a real risk.” P.1, Full Report

The Government’s new Environment Bill, currently held at the Report Stage in the House of Commons due to postponement, seeks to tighten environmental regulations – setting targets, plans and policies aimed at improving the natural world. Amongst a number of other measures, the Bill as it currently stands will establish an Office for Environmental Protection, tighten regulations around products and chemicals, and create specific targets and covenants surrounding conservation and biodiversity.

Several environmental groups including Greener UK and Wildlife and Countryside Link have supported amendments to the Environment Bill, including amendment NC5 which would require the government to set legally binding, and stringently measured, ‘state of nature’ targets by 2030. We’d like to encourage the public to learn more about the proposed bill amendments, and to make sure their voices are heard before the Bill is passed.

Rother District Council sees tackling environmental issues as a key priority, having declared a climate emergency in September 2019 and pledged to become carbon, and other noxious gas, neutral by 2030. Increasing biodiversity is an integral part of achieving these goals – we’ve pledged to achieve higher than the 10% Biodiversity Net Gain requirement included in the Environment Bill in our draft corporate plan (which is still open for consultation until 17 March 2021), and as part of our Environment Strategy have already launched several projects aimed at mitigating, and hopefully reversing, species and habitat loss.

Climate Change Steering Group member Cllr Susan Prochak recently organised a well-attended online webinar for Councillors led by  Dr Kate Cole, County Ecologist from East Sussex County Council. The session explored the new Biodiversity Net Gain requirement which forms part of the Environment Bill, requiring planners and developers to secure a 10% net gain in biodiversity as part of development, and to secure the habitat for 30 years.

Cllr Prochak says:

“The authoritative State of Nature Report in 2019 proved so clearly that in the UK our flora and fauna are in crisis. 41% of all UK species are declining, and one in ten are threatened with extinction. One of the main drivers is loss of habitat, and shockingly as little as 5% of land in the UK is looked after for nature. Just as with climate change, we have an emergency.

The silver lining is that people are increasingly aware and public support is growing to tackle the issue. The proposals put forth in the Environment Bill make it mandatory for developers to more than compensate for biodiversity loss on new developments – let’s push hard for this to happen.”

All photos by David EP Dennis, Friends of Combe Valley.

Future events

Pevensey & Eastbourne Levels: A Natural History

18 March 7.30

Join Evan Jones as he explores the fascinating wildlife that lives in the ditches, dykes and wet meadows of this beautiful area.

Planning for Wildlife: Delivering Net Gain through the Planning System

19 March 13:30

For those of you who couldn’t make the Biodiversity Net Gain session, or are keen to learn more about Net Gain Biodiversity requirements, Sussex Local Nature Partnership are running a free half-day webinar titled ‘Planning for Wildlife: Delivering Net Gain through the Planning System’ on the 19th March.

The Jungle Garden

22 March 7:30pm

Dave Goulson FRSE FRES, Professor of Biology at the University of Sussex,specializes in the ecology and conservation of insects. He gave a highly successful talk to BEG two years ago on bees, entitled “Give Bees a Chance”. His most recent book: “The Garden Jungle” is about the wildlife that lives right under our noses, in the soil beneath our feet, in gardens, parks and ponds.

Regenerative Farming Practices Explained

30 March 7:30pm       

With Edward Hall, Paley Farm Estate Manager.

We will learn how they put into practice their ethos of combining traditional values while farming native breeds for breeding or eating, with high welfare standards while practises are environmentally friendly, sustainable while being commercial. Management includes rotational grazing, sowing herbal pastures, restoring soil nutrition and enhancing biodiversity.   

For joining instructions see the Rother Environmental Group

If you have any questions about the issues raised in this article, please contact us at

Published: 16th March 2021

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