Knepp Estate is a large private area that since 2001 has embarked on a series of regeneration and restoration projects aimed at nature conservation – or ‘rewilding’, as it has come to be known. The 3,500 acre land – once intensively farmed – has been devoted to a pioneering rewilding project. Using grazing animals as the drivers of habitat creation, and with the restoration of dynamic, natural water courses, the project has seen extraordinary increases in wildlife. Extremely rare species like turtle doves, nightingales, peregrine falcons and purple emperor butterflies are now breeding here; and populations of more common species are rocketing.
So, it seemed the perfect place to bring our Reconnect group, so they could see first hand, how rewilding works and the benefits of the increase in natural wildlife. The trip, which took place on the 25 May, was funded by Councillor Jim Murray, and enabled over 35 pupils from cross the CSP to engage in a day exploring the estate, identifying plants and seeing the free-roaming animals up close (a little too up close on one occasion!). Thanks must also go to Lord and Lady Lucas, who accompanied us and arranged some informative worksheets for the pupils to complete as we walked around. We were lucky enough to see several species during our day, but most notable were the nesting storks and the Longhorn Cattle, which we had a very close encounter with!
The planned outcomes of this trip were:
An introduction to rewilding,
An understanding of why it could work in Eastbourne,
Some designs from pupils around the area we have given them for rewilding,
A thirst for more adventures into the ecology and sustainability of Eastbourne.