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Calls for Rottingdean golf course to become nature reserve
5:20am Thursday 30th January 2014 in News
Conservationists want to convert a disused Rottingdean golf hut for a different type of birdie.
The Friends of Beacon Hill want to create a wildlife centre to help maintain the Beacon Hill Nature Reserve between Rottingdean and Ovingdean.
They are looking to expand the nature reserve, which sits within the South Downs National Park, by including a former 18 hole pitch and putt golf course which fell out of use two years ago.
The plans have received the backing of naturalist and BBC broadcaster Chris Packham as well as a University of Sussex professor and the Marine Conservation Society.
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Mr Packham said: “The Downs are a great repository of unique life, a beautiful landscape and a treasure trove of history and culture.
“Developing an educational focus point for Brighton’s populace to better enable them to engage with this fabulous and valuable part of the world is quite simply a fantastic and irresistible idea.”
The friends are in talks with landowners Brighton and Hove City Council to extend the nature reserve into the former golf course and use the kiosk to create the Beacon Hub Brighton, which will become a centre of discussion on conservation of the natural world and local heritage.
It is hoped the centre will help to preserve the number of breeding skylarks at the site for future generations.
The planned centre would provide permanent exhibitions on local flora and fauna, space for local artists and crafts people to display their work, a classroom for visiting parties of school children and a meeting place.
With additional funding it is hoped that the space could be expanded to accommodate larger visiting groups, a small cafe and a children's eco play area.
Libby Darling, chairwoman of Friends of Beacon Hill, said: “As a gateway to the South Downs, the hub will be a brilliant opportunity for city dwellers of all ages to engage with and learn about the wildlife and habitat of chalk downland, the cliffs, which are a site of special scientific interest, and the intertidal zone of local beaches.”
Dave Goulson, professor of biology at the University of Sussex, said: “In the 20th Century Britain lost 98 % of its flower-rich grasslands to agriculture.
“Beacon Hill Nature Reserve is one of the remaining fragments, but it is very small and so it is unlikely to support viable populations of many rare plants and animals in the long term.
“Extending the area is a vital step towards ensuring the future of the many beautiful and fascinating creatures that live on chalk grasslands.”
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