The Living Coast


We are ‘The Living Coast’!!! Brighton and Lewes Downs is a UNESCO World Biosphere Region promoted as "The Living Coast”. It was inscribed by UNESCO in 2014 as the first completely new site in the UK since the 1970s, the first ever such site in South East England and one of only a few places worldwide to include a major urban area.

Key Issues

  • UNESCO World Biosphere Region since 2014
  • Promoted as "The Living Coast”
  • 200 species on international conservation lists
  • One of the most diverse botanical habitats in the UK

UNESCO World Biosphere Region - The Living Coast

There are many important and rare wildlife habitats within our biosphere that support more than 200 species on international conservation lists. More than 300 species are of national biodiversity conservation priorities, and more than one thousand are locally rare species.

UNESCO describe the ‘connections of ‘green networks’ for wildlife and people between town, country and coast’ as significant.

'The National Park downlands extend as fingers into the urban settlements...right down to the coast with its public beaches and accessible routes. The downland connects with a network of green spaces and corridors that helps to knit this ‘green infrastructure’ together.

These environments ‘are closely entwined with each other though both natural interactions and peoples’ use of them’.

UNESCO describe the Chalk grassland (such as that found at Whitehawk Hill) as ‘one of the most diverse botanical habitats in the UK, with up to 40 species found in a square metre of turf’.

And they note ‘one of the most complex and well-dated early Neolithic human settlements in Britain at the “causewayed camp” at Whitehawk in Brighton, with evidence of the lives of the earliest farming communities’

Indeed the Brighton and Lewes Downs is a UNESCO World Biosphere Region ‘Living Coast’ website points to the hill as a significant place of special interest within the Biosphere. It is marked as:

‘One of the earliest ‘proto-urban’ settlements in Europe (from Neolithic times!), the subject of a Lottery funded project in 2014-15 to research and interpret this and engage local people. Also a Local Nature Reserve with restored grazed chalk grassland, plus community orchard at the north end.’