If you were at the June Greenhavens meeting you will have heard tree warden Margery talk about the Last Wood and Meadow in Seaford. This really is a special site full of orchids and butterflies in the Summer. Until recently the site was a bit of a local dog walkers secret! The site has been rather neglected, lacking any formal conservation work, to encourage more wildlife. There are also some issues with anti-social behaviour at the site, which are of concern to local residents.

The land is owned by Lewes District Council who have supported and facilitated the working parties so far but have limited resources. They would support a more permanent community group overseeing the site.

The next logical step seemed to be to set up a “Friends of Last Wood” group to ensure the site gets the attention, protection and maintenance needed, to protect the flowers and wildlife that is so abundant here. This project is in the very early stages but does have some very keen supporters including tree wardens, an ecologist, Greenhavens and several keen naturalists/photographers.

South Downs National Park Volunteer rangers were there recently, cutting and collecting, an area of Last Wood meadow. This will help a little to control the spread of the scrub and trees, allowing a bit more light to the ground for the forbs and wildflowers.

After a meeting with Bob Eade (renowned local naturalist and butterfly expert) in the spring it was agreed that the southern south facing bank where most of the orchids were, is worth saving. The south western flat area that was burnt some years ago also has a lot of wild strawberry (and is the least bramble and scrub covered) so they were cutting this area too.

It’s possible the rangers could cut a larger area despite the quantity of scrub but it can be difficult to halt the natural succession in this kind of area without grazing, so concentrating on a smaller area might make more sense. The volunteer rangers were also booked in to do some tree popping – again in the same area, to remove some of the saplings.

There was recently a very positive meeting of volunteers and the current action plan includes:

  • For an ecologist to work on a draft management plan for the site, to be reviewed/agreed by the committee and partners in the Spring. Kate has very kindly agreed to donate her time to produce this plan.
  • A litter pick to be arranged early next year
  • A suitable mailing list to be set up, to keep all interested parties in touch with each other, and to coordinate events such as the litter pick and any site visits.

When the management plan is agreed, the committee will then need some more volunteers including a chairperson! The group have already identified the need for some interpretation boards on site detailing the plants and wildlife there, so putting in funding bids for these will be a priority too.

Thanks so much to those who made it to the meeting, and those who have been so supportive to date. We are confident that the first steps have been taken, to ensure the protection of this beautiful green space in Seaford.

You can read more about the project in this introduction by Bob Eade