Local ecological campaigner and author Dave Bangs talks about his new book ‘The Land of the Brighton Line’ and the fight to defend the ancient woodland on our doorstep in the Weald from the encroaching tide of fracking, airport expansion, new house building, new road and rail links and industrial scale wind turbines and solar arrays.
Most people think of Brighton’s countryside as being the Downs, though much of them are an agribusiness biological desert, despite their ‘protection’ by the National Park. But that’s only the first three miles of our countryside… Beyond that is the 23 mile-wide wooded vale of the Weald, between the North and South Downs. This is the most wooded area of its size in the whole of Britain and around half of it is ancient woodland.
It has its own ancient race of giant Sea Trout that spawn in the chalk streams… Its river valley waterlands house fast disappearing Nightingale, Barn Owl and Cuckoo. Its ancient giant trees, hundreds of years old, shelter old forest bats, beetles, birds, lichen, mosses and slime moulds. Its vanishing meadows and marshes shelter gorgeous wildflowers, moths, bees and other mini-beasts.
All this beauty and richness is deeply threatened. We do not see it, for most of the Weald is a closed book to us all, cooped up in our towns and cities.
Dave’s new book – “The Land of the Brighton Line” – aims to set that right. It is a detailed field guide to the whole of the middle Weald. It is also a call to action, and a call for a new strategy in our fight to preserve nature. If we do not know our countryside we cannot fight for it.