On Saturday 13th May the Southwood Foundation joined people and organisations from across the lower Ouse Valley at Lewes Railway Land Nature Reserve to launch the Ouse Wild Network in East Sussex and share ideas and plans for accelerating nature recovery, increasing community access to wildlife, and boosting the local green economy.

The event brought together a wide range of interest groups from Barcombe in the north to Newhaven and Seaford in the south, including nature conservation organisations, community groups, land owners, tourism providers, artists, food producers, event organisers, and council representatives, as well as other charities, businesses, and partnerships.

Attendees focused on sharing big, bold ideas that would speed up nature recovery as part of a collective vision for a wilder Ouse Valley. The event focused on five key areas:

  1. Landscape & habitat restoration
  2. The river
  3. Education / behaviour change
  4. Access
  5. Reintroducing lost species

Discussions also focused on the importance of widening the group to include as many people as possible in future through a belief in ‘the power of we’. Collaboration with the recently launched Ouse Valley Climate Action project – with whom many participants are affiliated – will be a priority, as will involvement in the ground-breaking Weald to Waves 100 miles nature corridor that is being created along the Ouse, Arun and Adur rivers. The network also identified the current ‘Rights of River’ initiative as of great importance.

Participants discussed the value of communication as a powerful tool for the network and plan further meetings to engage with more people, present local action and plan collaboration between projects.

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