MWHG’s Response to Chichester District Council’s Local Development Plan

The importance of ‘Wildlife Corridors’ cannot be over emphasised.

For the last four years the Manhood Wildlife and Heritage Group has been working via the Heritage Lottery Fund funded FLOW (Fixing and Linking our Wetlands) Project, to improve green connectivity between the three internationally important wildlife sites on and around the Peninsula: South Downs National Park, Chichester Harbour and Pagham Harbour. This enables creatures to move safely between them. Hedgerows, ditches and watercourses form these valuable links. Birds, bats, small mammals, insects and other invertebrates can travel and forage for food along them.

It is so important that this connectivity should continue beyond this relatively small area to provide passages and food for migrant species and opportunities for wildlife to reach new populations and thereby strengthen their gene pool which can become diluted and weakened in isolated populations, which may ultimately die out.

Our lovely coastal region is heavily developed and the pressure for new housing is enormous. It is vital that despite this, these green corridors should be created and remain sacrosanct.

It is most likely difficult for many people to realise the importance of this to their own health and wellbeing. However the relationship between all of nature, from the smallest seed to the tallest tree, from the tiniest mite to the largest animal, is a complex but inexorable web of survival, of which humans are at the top. The more diverse the network the stronger it is. It affects the air we breathe, the food we eat and the way we feel. For every species that becomes extinct or eradicated from a region, a small link in this invisible web is broken. In the last 25 years our insect population has declined by 75%; since the end of the last war Britain has lost 97% of its wild flowers and 300,000km of hedgerows; we are losing our pollinators, like bumblebees (three species gone, 10 severely threatened). Since 1970 the WWF reports the global vertebrate population has declined by 60%. The web of life is being weakened.

So we therefore strongly request that Chichester District Council should ensure these green links exist between the coastal plain and the South Downs and that they are protected from encroaching development, thereby helping to maintain the biodiversity of this special area.

In our view, the wildlife corridors that have been planned, using the best evidence and research available, form an essential way of protecting species in a rapidly changing environment, and are the minimum requirement. I would suggest that there are also significant reasons for recognising and protecting a network of wildlife corridors within the Manhood Peninsula, which link to the major corridors, so that any development, however small, does not impact negatively on biodiversity.


Post by Gina Scott and MWHG

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