LakeArun and Rother Connections (ARC) Project

The ARC 3 year project is in its second year.  Action in rural Sussex (AirS) is contracted as part of the project to assist with linking local projects with local communities. AirS was identified as an organisation which, with over 80 years’ experience of community development, has expertise and contacts in the catchment area.

The ARC Community Engagement Committee meets 3 times a year, with representation from AirS, as well as other partners.

This has resulted in some excellent activities and events, such as the oral history project, water vole monitoring, toad crossing volunteers, and a number of conferences at local centres in the catchment area, with key speakers on all aspects of ecosystem services in the catchment, including: ecosystem services mapping, sustainable urban drainage (rain gardens), water resource management and flooding, nitrates, sedimentation, swifts and martins/other key natural heritage issues, voluntary sector support.

Action in rural Sussex has played a role in assisting the ARC project team with undertaking various forms of community engagement over the lifespan of the project, but a particular emphasis has been on event development, participant feedback and analysis of changes in perceptions amongst stakeholders.

ARC Explorer APP

One of the biggest innovations from the ARC project during this year has been the creation of the ARC Explorer app, launched at Pulborough Brooks RSPB with Chris Packham.

This free app is for photographing wildlife, flora or fauna, or anything in the outdoors which should be shared. Any photo taken using the app will show on the arc feed where other users can like and comment, via the website, facebook or twitter. To download the app: http://arcexplorer.org.uk/

Background

For more detail on the ARC and how you can get involved, visit the website at http://arunwesternstreams.org.uk/projects/arc

Arun and Rother Connections (ARC) is a partnership project between the RSPB, Environment Agency, Sussex Wildlife Trust, South Downs National Park Authority, Natural England, West Sussex County Council and the Arun and Rother Rivers Trust. The RSPB is the lead partner, holding overall responsibility for successful delivery of the project.

Project Aims & Objectives

The project is Heritage Lottery Funded (£1.1 million over 3 years) and runs from 16th August 2013 until 15th August 2016.

The project aims are to:

  1. Promote a rich and thriving river system where wildlife flourishes and where people value and enjoy the landscape, natural and cultural heritage
  2. Work with landowners to protect, restore and reconnect wildlife habitats
  3. Improve water quality and eliminate non-native invasive species
  4. Better connect the community to the catchment, through access improvements, engagement opportunities and interpretation of the natural and cultural heritage of the project area.

Key project activities

  • Major works to improve fish passage
  • 13.5km Upper Arun river restoration project
  • Habitat improvements delivered through 9 new HLS agreements (~240 hectares)
  • Wetland habitat restoration including; fen, reedbed, species rich floodplain meadow, chalk streams, wet woodland and wet heath.
  • Surveys and removal of non-native invasive aquatic plant species
  • Activities to engage people to help them to get to know their river, learning about water and water resources
  • Primary wetlands education programme (for the 64 primary schools in the project area) including river field trips and new resource pack for schools on the Arun & Rother rivers
  • Access and visitor improvements at three nature reserves (Pulborough Brooks, Waltham Brooks and Burton Mill Pond).
  • New interpretation, trails and signage
  • Landowner training and engagement
  • Volunteering programme

“Supporting rural communities in Sussex to be vibrant and diverse places in which to live and work.”