St John’s churchyard is an amazing, extensive green space of about 2 acres within the town – many people do not even know it is there because it is so tucked away. It was closed as a burial site in 1978, when the maintenance of it passed to the District Council.
This is a good example of Natural Heritage, with much scope for development as a wildlife habitat.
A pilot project had been running for several years which saw excellent collaboration between Sussex Wildlife Trust, a few people from the local community, Lewes District Council, and St John’s Church. This resulted in a small part of the churchyard being maintained specifically for nature conservation.
As a natural development of this pilot project, the Heritage Lottery Fund are financing the gradual extension of this pilot project to cover the full extent of churchyard.
This will bring with it initiatives such as:
a) Enhancing the biodiversity
b) Enabling local people to record their churchyard observations of plant and animal life online via the new Community website project, thus building a fuller picture of the biodiversity contained within the space.
c) Encouraging learning about various aspects of the wildlife in the churchyard. This will include moth traps, bat watches and talks on specific topics. The pilot project included a small number of these, and these are continuing under the HLF project funding.
d) Creating volunteer opportunities for taking part in maintenance work and the conservation of the natural habitat.
e) Also important will be the periodic recording of the habitat characteristics, thus enabling the effect of the work done to be monitored for effectiveness.
Watch this space, and do make contact with us if you are interested in being involved!