Brighton & Hove’s Green & Pleasant Land

green-spaces-forum.pngBHOGG member Michelle Thomasson attended the Brighton and Hove Green Spaces Forum (BHGSF) latest network meeting last month.  Here Michelle gives us an update on their work.

BHGSF was initiated to conserve and improve our local environment by creating a support and information sharing network for volunteer community groups working in the area’s parks and green open spaces. At their network meeting on Monday the 21st October Cliff Munn, the Chair of BHGSF told the well-attended event that the forum currently consists of 91 groups including BHOGG.

During the evening there were two presentations, the first from Helen Starr-Keddle of the B&H Food Partnership followed by Luke Jones from The Tree Council; there were also helpful contributions from individual group members about their practical experiences, problems, challenges and notable successes.

Helen described their food strategy action plan which focusses on policies to help people grow food, for example: city community composting, fruit tree planting, 3 community gardens, edible edges planting (wonderful for wildlife as well as people) development plans for Stanmer with hopes for a new eco building by the Carbon Trust and the selling of Saunders park community garden produce at Shabitat.

Although Brighton and Hove became the UK’s first Silver Sustainable Food City in 2015, there is no complacency with the B&H Food Partnership as they now aim for the Gold Sustainable Food City award. You can support this bid by sharing your B&H community actions on social media with #goldfoodcitybid and inspire others at the same time, for more information visit their website.

Helen also shared new plans to help protect the rare and precious South Downs chalk landscape, the project ‘Changing chalk’ initiative will incorporate a long-term management plan in partnership with the National Trust. This will also tie in with therapeutic activities in the South Downs under the ‘Green Wellbeing Alliance’ to help encourage health and well-being by connecting with nature and others.

Luke Jones described himself as an environmentalist, a green landscaper and the B&H Tree Warden. He enthusiastically outlined the many benefits trees bring, they clean the air, help store carbon, provide habitat and help improve mental health, but he admitted that the Tree Council’s objective to plant many more trees within the city boundary was a difficult task. It is not easy for councils to plant trees, it requires money and time, including the maintenance, this is where support from local pressure groups can really help move the process along.

Luke reminded us that human civilisation has deforested so much of the earth’s surface – an estimated 3 trillion trees, or 46% of the world’s forests, but he hopes to help change hearts and minds and motivate us to put an area aside for one or more trees. Positive actions can be made, last year 15,000 trees were planted in the South East, this year he estimates 10 times that number.

Trees can be supplied by The Woodland trust for free to local communities, the best time to plant a tree and successfully establish it (as a whip), is between now and March. Luke encouraged us to get involved, the B&H Tree planting strategy will soon be available for public consultation and there is also an initiative to plant trees in your postcode.

BHGSF’s web platform is a dynamic ‘communication hub’ for all members so if you have a green space event, or some news to share please don’t be shy, why not register on the B&H Green Spaces forum? Use the event calendar, or the ‘Submit your news’ option and let people know what is happening in your treasured green space:

You can read the minutes  in full.

If you’re interested in attending a meeting as a BHOGG rep or getting more involved with strategic work across the city, please let us know by posting a comment below or emailing us.

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