Sussex Wildlife Trust is launching a new multi-million project to engage future generations in wildlife conservation.
The project – “Discover Rye Harbour” – will see the establishment of a major new Discovery Centre at the largest of its nature reserves in both East and West Sussex – the vast landscape of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. In addition to a broad range of new activities, walks, talks, education, training and research, the new scheme will be the largest project ever undertaken by the Sussex Wildlife Trust, and is set to engage over 350,000 people in the wonders of nature.
The project is a joint venture between the Sussex Wildlife Trust and the 2000-strong Friends of Rye Harbour Nature Reserve which has been campaigning for a new visitor centre to support the Reserve for years. After months of development, the largest element of the scheme – the new Discovery Centre itself – received unanimous planning permission from the local authority, Rother District Council, at a key meeting on November 16th. Hailing it as a jewel in the region’s crown, one councillor stood up to describe the Reserve as “Truly, the Garden of Eden transported from Mesopotamia”.
Covering over 1100 acres, the Reserve is recognised as one of the most important sites for nature and wildlife in Britain. Already possessing every national level of protection possible, in 2016, the wetlands, saltmarsh and lagoons it contains were also recognised by the global Ramsar Convention as a site of international importance for migrating birds and other threatened species.
Carole Nicholson, Chairman of Sussex Wildlife Trust said the new project was a vital part of the Trust’s overall vision for nature and wellbeing across the entire region. “We want Sussex to be a place where people and wildlife can thrive together. This isn’t just about making sure they have access to nature, but really engage with it, learn about it, and help care for it for future generations. Our new Discover Rye Harbour project is all about that – it will not just be a fantastic, eco-friendly building, but it will involve a whole range of exciting projects to involve people in the natural world on their doorstep.”
The new Discovery Centre has been designed by internationally-renowned architects Simpson & Brown, whose previous work includes new visitor centres at leading heritage sites including Riveaulx Abbey, Eltham Palace and the Scottish Seabird Centre near Edinburgh.