Sussex Green Living and Envitia Horsham at the install of the Pollination Education Station in Horsham

Sussex is Really Buzzing

Getting Sussex Buzzing again!

Sussex is really buzzing in 2024 thanks to exciting new collaborations between Sussex Green Living and local businesses: a new way of combining practical solutions to current and future environmental issues with community outreach, fundraising and business wellbeing. The Pollination Education Stations and Green Business Network have been developed in collaboration with Billingshurst based agency PMW Communications as part of their generous gift of pro bono work with 30 local charities to celebrate their 30 years in business.

One week after Sussex Green Living launched these new endeavours at the Sussex Green Hub, the first Pollination Education Station (PES) has been installed. Horsham based business, Envitia Ltd, a digital and data services company based in Horsham, will focus on one charity each quarter and on Monday 4th March, as part of their fundraising and collaboration with Sussex Green Living, they set up their Pollination Education Station, a haven for pollinators, with a community herb bed and an information board.

The Importance of Nature

We all want a world where our climate is stable, nature thrives, and where all people have health, happiness, and prosperity – it’s our human right, right?

Unless we change things, we are on track to breach the 1.5°C temperature increase limit set by the Paris Agreement by 2030. The breach risks irreversible environmental degradation and runaway climate change that will affect all our societies and economies.

An essential ally against the climate crisis is nature. We are losing nature at an alarming and unprecedented rate. For anyone who has been watching David Attenborough’s latest BBC programme, Wild Isles, you will know that Britain is one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world.

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Improving Soil Health with biochar

It was the first experience I’ve had of using a retort kiln. Normally I use a ring type.

The ice crystals were glistening on the metal door as I pulled hard. It creaked with resistance as the morning sun shone upon what was left of the wood.  It had been reduced by half through a process called pyrolysis, (heating wood in the absence of oxygen).  The fire turns volatile oils into gases which heat the wood.

I always love that first encounter when I open a kiln, picking up a handful of charcoal and dropping it gently; listening to the tinkle as pure carbon cascades down while sunlight and left over heat create peacock blues or rainbow patterns over the blackness.

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Pollinator Highway

As a child, I never understood the saying, “It’s an ill wind indeed that blows no good,” but I recently realised that’s what’s happening now.

I went to buy a thermal T-shirt, my current one sadly threadbare, but there were none to be had.  The assistant told me they had ‘overperformed’, because fuel prices are high and people are dressing up warmly at home rather than putting the heating on. Result!  I know people who, when working on the computer at home, take a break for a few minutes and go for a run, simply to warm up.  Loved ones are switching off the TV earlier than their usual habit and instead snuggling up in bed with a good book. Result!  People are jumping on their bikes or walking rather than taking the car for short journeys, and we’re driving more carefully because the roads are full of potholes. Result!

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Veganuary 10th Anniversary

2023 is the tenth anniversary of Veganuary, a month during which people don’t fast entirely, but simply commit to just eating plants.

The vegan organisation GenV was started by Matthew Glover who also came up with the increasingly popular idea of Veganuary.  GenV doesn’t take donations from the public but has a number of celebrity supporters, notably Joanna Lumley and Paul McCartney whose wife Linda famously pioneered the vegetarian food market in the UK.  GenV currently has a poster campaign in Westminster to encourage MPs to consider more compassion in farming as currently almost three-quarters of the animals we grow here for eating are actually confined in factory farms.  An anonymous donor gave them a million pounds for this London poster campaign.

In contrast to GenV hoping to persuade the government to legislate, the Vegan Land Movement are making changes out in the fields. A Horsham friend explained to me that this community interest company has several goals, one of which is to reverse the incredible biodiversity loss in the UK.   It raises money through its public Crowdfunding website and has just been able to buy its fourth plot of land in an already polluted area.  The Government Food Report says, “Domestic production faces a number of risks, including soil degradation, drought and flooding.”  Last year the Vegan Land Movement helped mitigate this by planting hundreds of native trees including willow, maple, wild cherry, oak and birch to help restore the soils and therefore the wildlife.

Some larger land owners are paid to re-wild parts of their land, but sadly there are no checks in place to see if this actually occurs.  Would it be better for us to support our small organic farmers instead and crunch on local carrots, caulis and cabbages?

Naomi Hallum, the chief executive of GenV, explains that millions of acres could be freed up for nature corridors as although over 70% of UK land area is used for agriculture, the majority of it is grassland for grazing rather than crops.  Because plants grow quickly, we would only need about 16% of this land to grow our food if we became plant-based eaters.  The UK has lost more of its wildlife than most countries, (we’re now in the worst 10%) and the main reason for this is land use change from wild land to fields.

So enjoy your veg to do your bit for the planet this month! To find out more about Veganuary or trying some vegan recipes, go to

By Morag Warrack



Restoring kelp, eliminating single use plastic

KelpDid anyone see the coverage of the Earthshot awards presented by the Prince of Wales in Boston earlier this month? They were awards given to organisations, companies or cities recognised as making a significant contribution to dealing with climate change, reviving our oceans, and other similar objectives. You can watch the whole ceremony on BBC iPlayer Earthshot Prize.

The winner in the Building a Waste-Free World category was a London based company founded in 2014 called Notpla (i.e. not plastic!) They have come up with a unique product made from seaweed – or kelp (to use the more scientific term employed by Sussex Wildlife Trust and local universities involved in the Sussex Kelp Restoration Project).

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Birds of a Feather

George Frederic Watts, The Wounded Heron, 1837, oil on canvas (Watts Gallery Trust)

On a guided tour of the George Watts Gallery, near Guildford recently, I was surprised to learn about the Victorian artist’s ‘protest pictures’.

Born when our own Percy Shelley was at the height of his powers writing his controversial poems of protest, I felt the two would have got on well, with their artistic commentaries on the ruthlessness of the governments of their day.

One painting which felt particularly poignant was called, ‘A Dedication (to all those who love the beautiful and mourn over the senseless and cruel destruction of bird life and beauty)’.  It depicts an angel weeping over an altar littered with kingfishers and other small birds.

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Transition Horsham seed swap

How to Grow in Harmony with Nature

Transition Horsham seed swapDid you know that farming more in harmony with nature can not only replenish the soil (without the need for manufacturing and transporting factory-made chemicals long distances in plastic bags) but can also produce crops throughout the year because different foods can be grown together, in the same way as they are on an allotment?

By planting a variety of a different crops each month, and especially by planting crops amongst fruit or nut trees, even more food can be grown in a small area.

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Silent Spring

Sixty Years since Silent Spring (first published in West Sussex County Times)

Silent Spring

Recycle. Repair. Save fuel. Care about Nature. They’re becoming mainstream now. But it wasn’t always thus.

Sixty years ago, things were very different. Big science and technology dominated everything. Problem with insects munching your crops? Destroy them with DDT! Want to get to the shops faster? Try our new ’59 saloon with fuel consumption lower than the Dead Sea! Everything was going to be newer, shinier, faster, bigger-and largely made of plastic.

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Child in Tree

A Fond Farewell for our Green Queen (first published in West Sussex County Times)

children and natureAs one of her final decisions, the Queen chose to mark her Platinum Jubilee this year with the Queen’s Green Canopy, a unique tree planting initiative which invited people from across the United Kingdom to “Plant a Tree for the Jubilee”.  The first wave of planting took place in the spring, and as we mourn her passing, how fitting it seems that the second planting season will be taking place, from October until the end of the year, creating a living memorial to a wonderful monarch who embodied dignity and wisdom, and who stayed up to date and informed in her serious passion to serve, right up until mere days before her passing. Read more

Crystal glass and bees

It’s Crystal Clear…We have a water crisis (first published in West Sussex County Times)

Crystal glass and bees

A surprise from a zoom I attended last week was that many people are unaware that we have a real water crisis here in Horsham District, the first ever in the UK on this scale.  The huge water shortfall means that all building work is now on hold while solutions are sought.

Southern Water provide drinking water for over a million properties, and remove and recycle the waste water of almost five million people.  Quite a task!

Although we have 205 reservoirs, this provides only 7% of our water.  The majority comes from underground aquifers, with around 25% being taken from rivers.

The cost of this service from 2020-2025 is around £1,000 per property, with improvements ranging from digitisation, artificial intelligence and machine learning to re-vamping the 3,500 pumping stations and 40,000 kilometres of sewers.  Over a thousand options are being modelled including banning non-essential water use and building a desalination plant at Shoreham.

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The Importance of Rainforests (First Published in West Sussex County Times)

RainforestI have been blessed to spend 20 years working in the Ecuadorian Amazon and Choco cloud forest, a world away from my home in Pulborough.

It has been like having parallel lives.

The UK has one of lowest levels of tree cover in Europe at 13%, globally ranking 136th out of 189 countries. Looking down from a plane over our green desert fields, we can see how few trees there really are with only tiny patches of ancient woodland remaining, maybe unaware that here in England our level of biodiversity is painfully low.  Although the woodland cover has doubled in the last 100 years this is mainly with non-native conifer plantations, where very little diversity can exist.

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Swift Action Needed: Citizen Science for Horsham Swift Box Project (first published in West Sussex County Times)

SwiftsSwifts have been thriving for about 70 million years, when they would have been nesting in crevices in rocks and trees alongside the last of the Tyrannosaurs. But despite millions of years, something has now gone dramatically wrong, and UK numbers have plummeted in the last 25 years.

These extraordinary birds can remain in the air for three whole years because everything else apart from nesting is done on the wing.  Only when they reach maturity and start to build will they touch anything solid.

No other bird can fly faster in level flight. They eat insects, drink raindrops or water from a lake, even mating and sleeping on the wing, up near Earth’s stratosphere.  Their huge eyes are surrounded by bristles that act as sun visors and their feet are incredibly strong and so needle-sharp and tiny that they are unable to hop or walk, so they fly directly into the holes, cling to walls or slip into spaces where they can easily drop back out again.

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Conserving the Coastline for People and Nature (first published in West Sussex County Times)

Photo by Christine Hartley

Keeping our coastline safe and sustainable is everyday work at Worthing Coastal Office. Rob Dove and his highly trained team cover the beaches from Shoreham to Ferring in all weathers. They run foot patrols, quad bikes, a jet ski and a powerful rib. Much of their work is about people: finding lost children in summer, first aid, by-laws and clearing up after illegal beach fires. But they know nature must go hand in hand with people.

Plastics of all sizes are an obvious issue.  A particularly deadly problem for the wildlife is the abandoned fishing nets which kill hundreds of creatures. These nets are collected by the beach wardens along with other plastic and made safe. Injured animals are cared for until experts can restore them to health.

“Despite everything, our water quality is good!” declares Rob encouragingly.  “We see seals, dolphins, and huge shoals of mackerel.

“As covid reduced human activity, the animals seemed to gain confidence and moved back in.” Read more

Horsham District Council new cabinet

The new Leader of Horsham District Council, Cllr Jonathan Chowen, has made a series of new cabinet appointments, including Cllr James Wright as Cabinet Member for Environment and Rural affairs, […]

Sussex Green Hub

Sussex Green Living 2021 Roundup By Morag Warrack

The Mystery by Clive Cobie (first published in West Sussex County Times)

Beneath our feet is a world that many do not even consider to be part of us, yet within two handfuls of healthy soil are more living organisms than people […]

Sussex teenagers unite to take action on climate by Max Moorcroft (first published in West Sussex County Times)

Sussex Green Living’s Youth Eco Forum is a young persons’ environmental group where we speak about current news and creatively demonstrate climate activism in many forms. The YEF was founded […]

Eco milk float rising to CO2 challenge

Press Release

Eco milk float rising to the carbon reduction challenge

Pop-up and rock-up

An eco 1974 milk float, pop-up shop and pop-up climate emergency centre – what do they all have in common? They are all initiatives offered by multi-award-winning charity Sussex Green Living, to help people reduce their carbon footprint.

It might be hot air in Glasgow but not at the grassroots where this charity is concerned. On the first day of COP26 the charity became part of a new pop-up shop on the high street. They popped up their first once a month climate emergency centre, the Sussex Green Hub, on 25th September and earlier in the year saw the first appearance of their unique and quirky mobile eco display, a 1974 retrofitted milk float, called the Inspiration Eco Station, and the launch of their Bright New Future Roadshow. Read more

Nature Networks by Isabella Tree (first published in West Sussex County Times)

Imagine a beautiful Persian carpet. Then cut it into a thousand squares. What do you get? Not a thousand smaller Persian carpets but a thousand scraps of cloth unravelling at the edges. That’s what’s happening to nature in the modern landscape, the scraps becoming ever smaller as the threads begin to trip us up. It is causing the Sixth Mass Extinction – a catastrophic loss of biodiversity affecting the whole planet.

We can see the unravellings all around us if we know how to look. A patch of ancient woodland surrounded by a monoculture of arable is vulnerable to ‘edge effect’ – the drift of chemical sprays, exposure to wind, extreme heat and frost – eating away at habitat on its periphery. That single ancient oak in the middle of a field of wheat has its roots assaulted by ploughing every year. The fine fungal filaments – or mycorrhizae – leading off its roots in search of nutrients are drenched several times a year in agricultural chemicals. The tree can no longer communicate underground with other trees. It is like a lone elephant in a zoo, deprived of the society of its herd, doomed to die alone. Read more

Sussex Kelp Forest Leads the Way by Keir Hartley (first published in West Sussex County Times)

Kelp forest

The new kelp forest off the Sussex coast is becoming real. That’s the message from Councillors and wildlife and fisheries experts. And it puts Sussex in the forefront of efforts to combat global warming, habitat destruction and the return to a cleaner, more sustainable world.

The marine forest which stretched between Chichester and Rye was destroyed by storms and trawling in the 1980s but is now being restored.

“Given the extent of kelp loss it may take many years for kelp to recover to the density and distribution once known”, says Tim Dapling, Chief Officer for Sussex Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority.  “Early information appears to show changes in the environment already taking place since trawling management was introduced in March 2021. It will be very interesting to see changes in 4-5 years time.” Read more

Seal of success! by Keir Hartley (first published in West Sussex County Times)

Seals on our Sussex coast show that conservationists are getting something right. It’s not just Gavin the well-loved harbour seal who sports with paddle boarders in Littlehampton; we can see these marvellous creatures now in Chichester harbour, Eastbourne and in the Adur, where two seals named Bramble and Rivier (who swam in from Belgium) have generated their own following.

According to Zoologist Stephen Savage of the Sea Watch Foundation, it’s a wonderful sign that our waters are clean enough to support food for these large animals. “They like mullet, flatfish and crabs mainly” he explains, “but they hunt anywhere in tidal or brackish water, even as far up as The Black Rabbit at Arundel.”

Stephen, who is County Recorder for Sea Mammals, has studied seals since 1997. The public have been stalwart supporters. Initially he collated sighting reports, but eight years ago increasing seal numbers allowed him to build a picture of populations in Sussex. “We hope to learn even more through citizen science” says Stephen.  “The interaction of seals and people will significantly add to this story.” Read more

PEA Award 2013

How Green is Copper? by Nicola Peel

PEA Award 2013

How Green is Copper? With a rush for electric cars and renewable power some of the most biodiverse areas on Earth are under threat. Hidden beneath primary forest teeming with life metals lay buried.

Whilst Ecuador was the first country in the world to put the #rightsofnature in its #constitution, sadly this has not stopped foreign interest from wanting to mine one of the most biodiverse places on the planet.

The Los Cedros Reserve is almost 12,000 acres of untouched cloud forest. Imagine over 400 different kinds of orchids, over 350 species of birds, 800 different kinds of moths and uncountable species of fungi. 5 critically endangered and 31 endangered species make this their home.

This little known reserve is more biodiverse than the Amazon.

Still the Canadian mining company Cornerstone Capital Resources buy off the local people with trinkets , beads and the promise of work. They do not talk about the potential risk of contaminating their water source or of what will happen when they leave.

The world is watching this vital case. If Nature wins it means that not only Los Cedros can breathe a sigh of relief but over 6 million acres of protected land which is under the threat of mining. This will in turn set an international precedent. Read more

Beyond Be-Leaf by Catherine Sleeman of Horsham Youth Eco Forum (first published in West Sussex County Times)

On Wednesday 14th July, Sussex Green Living’s Youth Eco Forum led a day of outdoor activities in an area of ancient woodland near Billingshurst. The event, named Beyond Be-Leaf, hoped to give young people who would not usually have the opportunity to get out in the countryside a chance to get hands-on and creative, learning about the natural world. Youth Eco Forum Member, Flora Burleigh reflected that the best thing about the day was, “simply observing the students as they were immersed in nature, watching them be inspired and actually having the opportunity to pay a closer attention to the woodland environment.”

Year 7 and 8 pupils from Tanbridge House School, Christ’s Hospital School and City of London Academy Southwark spent the day learning about the local wildlife, woodland management, and positive climate solutions. They had the opportunity to explore their connection to nature through creative writing and dance workshops as well as learning woodcraft skills and going on a nature walk. Some of the young attendees had never been to the countryside before and this made the event a particularly exciting and revelatory experience. Read more