Climate Action with relation to the Brighton Downs Estate
We want to ensure that the Whole Estate Plan contains significant and measurable climate action as a core element of the functioning of the plan. The government is advising its own departments to prepare for 4 degrees C of warming this century, so most of the precious downland features we value now will either be gone or unrecognisably changed unless we take urgent action on greenhouse gases.
The Whole Esate Plan for Brighton Downs Estate must contain mandatory climate action requirements, especially for carbon sequestration, which are quantitative and set in a manner that is measurable against target and timelines.
We acknowledge that we are data deficient right now, as we lack proper information on carbon budgeting based on land use, and most critically we lack sufficient data on carbon capture by chalk grassland. However, a number of people/ organisations are working hard on this now (Rewilding UK/ University of Sussex/ South Downs National Park Authority/ The Living Coast). In advance of this information being obtained, it is essential we set ambitious targets within the Whole Estate Plan for carbon capture locally. We must not expect others to deal with this elsewhere. There is a danger of the issue being lost in well-meaning but essentially meaningless words within the plan and lacking any actual direction or significant value.
Priority must be given within the Whole Estate Plan to more carbon-neutral forms of agriculture, and enhancing/ extending/ connecting up semi-natural habitats which capture carbon, buffer temperature extremes and assist with water management in a chaotic climate.
Setting our downland within a wider Nature Recovery Network and following natural processes wherever possible in managing our precious semi-natural downland sites will be very important as this is likely to result in biodiversity benefit as well as helping to meet these climate action objectives.