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Nature success story as volunteers strive to protect nature reserve in South Downs

This year marks the 30th anniversary of Benfield Hill being designated Hove’s first and oldest Local Nature Reserve. Widely recognised as a ‘hidden gem’ in the National Park, it is one of the richest surviving remnants of old chalk grassland in the area.

To mark the milestone, the Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group, which protects and promotes the hill, has been focused on developing awareness, understanding, and appreciation for this unique habitat and its rich biodiversity.

Activities have included developing partnerships and delivering a range of talks, walks and surveys, as well as various initiatives to engage with the local community.

This year, the hill has also revealed some exciting species finds, including a very rare orange conch moth of which there have been a handful of recorded sightings in Sussex. Hornet robberflies (pictured right), which had only been known in around 40 isolated breeding sites in the UK, have also been seen. The nature reserve received extensive local and global news coverage of its thriving hazel dormice population and the conservation work it undertakes to protect them.

An emphasis on creating a rich social media content to reach new audiences has seen it add over 500 followers in six months and a grant from the National Park Authority will help with the installation of new information and interpretation boards on site.

Sally Wadsworth, Chair of the Benfield Wildlife and Conservation Group, said: “We can’t do this without all the members, volunteers, partners, supporters who help us, and we are always on the lookout for people who want to get involved and make a difference.”

More information can be found here or email

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