Facts about Uckfield’s two nature reserves were shared at an exhibition in town yesterday.
Did you know that the wooded sandstone outcrops on the West Park reserve were formed under the sea and heaved up about 31 million years ago?
Or that they are home to more than 60 species of moss and liverworts, some thought to be species from the last ice age?
The outcrops are also said to have archaeological value because our ancestors used them to build basic shelters during the Mesolithic period, about 9,000 years ago.
The reserve covers 27 acres and its habitats also include mixed woodland, grassland – much of which is full of flowers – and a sensitive marsh which supports a variety of orchits, including the rare southern marsh orchid.
West Park is on the western edge of Uckfield between West Park housing estate, the A22 by-pass and the B2012 Uckfield/Piltodown Road. It was owned for 200 years by the Streatfeild family.
Hempstead Meadows runs beside the River Uck in the centre of town and is an ancient flood plain subject to periodic flooding during the winter.
It is described as “very important wetland habitat”.
It comprises damp grassland, the Meadow, to the east of Waitrose car park, and merges into wetter swampy grassland, the Primeval Swamp.
According to information at the exhibition banked areas to the north of the swamp includ habitats such as anthill banks, a reptile sunning area, badger setts and grasslands, linked by a boardwalk through to Hempstead Field recreation ground and into dry grassland stretching behind Roman Way towards Buxted.
The aim of the exhibition held in the Ashdown Room at Uckfield Civic Centre was to recruit potential members of supporters groups for the two nature reserves.
The reserves are owned and managed by Uckfield Town Council which employs a countryside ranger to look after them.
The aims is for the new supporters groups to plan and organise environmentally-related activity in the reserves to reach out to the community to raise awareness and encourage more involvement by residents and local groups.