Biosphere Bulletin - April 2016
Biosphere Here

Nature Now

What's happening in nature this month

Coming Up...

Biosphere Events in your

Please visit our events calendar for full details of all of the events listed below
Weds 6th April (11.00-13.00) - Biosphere Woodland Health Walk, Stanmer Park, free (BLD Biosphere)

Fri 8th April (10.00-12.30) - Wheatears wildlife walk, Lewes, £3 (SWT)

Sun 17th April (16.00) - Beaver talk, Linklater Lewes Railway Land, donations (RLWT)

Weds 20th April (10.30-12.30) - Wildflower seed-sowing, Preston Park, free (BHFP)

Weds 20th April - 25th May (10.30-12.30) (6 sessions) - Nature Tots, for 3-5 yr olds, Stanmer Park, £54 (SWT)

Fri 22nd April (18.00-21.00) - Earth Day film screening, Brighton, free (BHESCO/BCAN)

Sun 24th April (10.30-16.00) - Saddlescombe Farm open day, Poynings, £5 (NT)


Fri 6th May (09.15-12.45) - Wildlife Walk, near Lewes, £3 (SWT/SDNPA)

Sun 15th May (10.30-12.30) - Big Five Butterflies walk, Mill Hill nr Shoreham, free (BC)

Biosphere Here

April 2016

Rain Gardens to soak up April Showers 

Dear <<Name>>

April has arrived, bringing with it the customary changeable weather and some times heavy downpours - the proverb "April showers bring May flowers" holds true to help our gardens and farmers' fields to grow, but can also pose a risk of local flooding.
Water generally, and flood risk from surface water (see 'WoW' section, below left) in particular, is a key priority for our Biosphere's programme of environmental improvements. We seek to help tackle flood risk through natural approaches where possible - using our "green infrastructure" of green spaces alongside the urban 'grey' infrastructure of engineered drainage.

Guided by this approach, we have just completed a pilot project to create the first ever "Rain Gardens" in our Biosphere area, with two schemes established in parks in Portslade by Brighton & Hove City Council, aided by grant support from the Environment Agency. We hope that not only will these rain gardens help to alleviate the threat of localised flooding there, but also that they can reduce pollution of the underground chalk aquifer from urban runoff. We are planting the sites with native wildflowers typical of both wetlands and local chalk grasslands to attract wildlife and give colour and pleasure to people.  

Whilst a novel idea for our area, rain gardens have a longer pedigree 'over the pond' in the USA - most notably in Portland on the Pacific coast (which gets a lot more rain that we do!). Rain garden expert Gary Grant, who designed our local schemes and is the author of various books on the subject, gives us as a potted history as this month's guest author of our Bio Blog (below right).

Our rain gardens make up one of the urban projects of the 'CHAMP' initiative to protect and improve the quality of our chalk aquifer, from which all of our drinking water is supplied. We are also working to teach school children about our local water cycle through the innovative "Our Water Matters" environmental education programme, combining learning using our virtual (Minecraft) Biosphere with good old outdoor wet & wild activities!

Speaking of getting outdoors, take a look at both our monthly 
'Nature Now' diary and events Calendar (list, left) to get you inspired with things you can see and do during the Easter school holidays and beyond, such as the National Trust's annual open day at Saddlescombe Farm for example.
Lastly, if you can spare an hour a week through the summer season and are interested in butterflies, please get in touch about walking a regular monitoring route - to give important information as a 'citizen scientist' on how they are faring.  

Stay dry between the showers!   
Rich Howorth
Brighton & Lewes Downs Biosphere Partnership

Window On
Our World

Forms of Flooding

Flood risk takes varied forms in our Biosphere area, ranked in the top ten most vulnerable places nationally:

~ Surface water - "muddy flooding" runoff from the Downs and over urban surfaces e.g. at Bevendean

~ Ground water - rising up from the chalk aquifer in wet winters e.g. at Patcham  

~ River water
 - spreading over the floodplains of the Adur and especially the Ouse river in winter

~ Coastal & Tidal
- exacerbated by high spring tides, storm surges and rising sea levels 

Bio Blog

Rise of the Rain Gardens 

From Portland (US) to Portslade (UK), Rain Gardens are now appearing in our Biosphere - following their pioneering evolution in the US. 

A “rain garden” is simply a low-lying planted wetland area, designed to receive and retain rainfall running off hard surfaces and so help to alleviate local flooding from heavy rainfall events – a phenomenon increasing with climate change. 

This "green infrastructure" can also help to filter pollution, create wildlife habitats, and add urban colour – making them multifunctional in nature…read full blog

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