At their latest meeting at Ferring Village Hall, over 50 members of Ferring Conservation Group heard from Fran Southgate of the Sussex Wildlife Trust. As well as working for the Trust, she is also the Ecological Advisor to the Arun and Rother Connections project, and this was the subject of her talk – “Building the ARC – Water and Wetlands in the Arun Valley”.
This is a Heritage Lottery funded project, and its main aim is to promote a rich and thriving river system where wildlife flourishes and where people value and enjoy the landscape, natural and cultural heritage. It covers an area of some 77,000 hectares of West Sussex roughly from Horsham across to Petersfield and down to Littlehampton, with a whole variety of habitats including acid heathland, chalk downland, plus areas of clay and shingle. Otters are one of the flagship species of the project as these are good indicators of the health of the rivers, and are starting to colonise the area, having been extinct here since the 50s and 60s. Some other vital species are Water Voles (making good progress) and the very rare Black Poplar trees, which need damp conditions.
The project includes many opportunities for people to get involved including guided walks, practical work days and training, plus there is also some funding available to local groups for practical projects.
To round off the meeting, Group Vice Chairman Ed Miller gave an update on planning matters, and highlighted the progress of the Ferring Neighbourhood Plan which will be going to referendum in the village on December 10th, and the Group is fully supporting a “yes” vote.