Wet habitat creation at Mayes Park

Edition: March 2024

The Nature Recovery Award, which is part of our Wilder Horsham District partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust, supports landowners and community groups to implement practical schemes that help expand and improve networks for wildlife.

Wilder Horsham District

The Nature Recovery Award, which is part of our Wilder Horsham District partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust, supports landowners and community groups to implement practical schemes that help expand and improve networks for wildlife.

One project has been to fund wet habitat restoration at Mayes Park near Warnham.

Water stress is a growing problem in Sussex. Climate change is bringing an increase in the occurrence of extreme weather events and both floods and droughts are becoming more common. Part of the problem is the way that water has been managed in the past.

Rivers have been straightened, ditches built, and land drains lie unseen right across the countryside; in places clay pipes sit next to concrete ones which sit next to plastic ones. All these things suck the water away from where it is needed and dump it downstream, causing floods when it rains and droughts when it doesn’t. This all has huge negative impacts for wildlife too as water is fundamental to the ecosystem.

At Mayes Park, a small family farm, James Clapshaw is working with Wilder Horsham District to transition to a form of land management that focuses on nature recovery.

A big part of this is delaying the progress of water across the land. Not only will this provide drink and forage for livestock on the farm, it will also protect the soil, increase carbon storage and buffer the farm from drought, flood and pollution. Even better, it will provide lots of great habitat and provide crucial wildlife corridors to link it all together.

The funding from the Nature Recovery Award has allowed the hire of a digger and an experienced contractor to locate and remove land drains. Over 1.3km of land drains have been broken up and 350m removed completely. This has created a series of ponds where the water wells up from the broken drains, which together with a series of new and restored larger ponds has completely transformed the landscape.

The benefits to the farm and the wildlife are already evident and will only increase as the years go by.

School visits

To help educate future generations about nature recovery, biodiversity and complementary farming techniques, Mayes Park has been funded by DEFRA to offer a number of free school visits. Schools can email: nature@mayespark.com for more information.

Find out more

To learn more about Wilder Horsham District, our unique and innovative five-year partnership with Sussex Wildlife Trust, please visit: www.horsham.gov.uk/wilderhorshamdistrict

Nature Recovery Award

We would love to hear from any landowners who might be interested in similar nature recovery projects. For an informal chat please contact: wilderhorshamdistrict@sussexwt.org.uk.

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