Join Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal in celebrating the beauty of Chichester Harbour
- Credit: Paul Adams
Royal visit shines a light on ongoing conservation efforts and the ways that we can help to protect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal paid a trip to Chichester Harbour Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) on May 12, highlighting the natural beauty of the area and the work that is being done to help protect and preserve it for years to come.
Hosted by Chichester Harbour Trust, alongside Chichester Harbour Conservancy and Bosham Sailing Club, The Princess Royal was guided on a quintessential Harbour experience, which centred around the historic Bosham Sailing Club, taking in views of Quay Meadow and Holy Trinity Church against the backdrop of the South Downs. Attendees also took a short trip on board a Chichester Harbour Conservancy RIB to view the expanses of sheltered coastal waters and the high tide bird roosts at Stakes Islands, Pisley Island and Ellanore Spit.
‘We were delighted to offer Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, a keen sailor, a first-hand experience of this unique Harbour and insight into its vulnerability and the hard work that goes into conserving it for everyone to enjoy, both now and in the future,’ says John Nelson, Chairman of Chichester Harbour Trust, who hosted The Princess Royal during the visit. ‘The Princess Royal was greatly engaged with presentations on wildlife and conservation, education and young people, sailing and recreation and received an introduction to some of the challenges and opportunities facing this nationally protected landscape.’
A charity founded in 2002, the Chichester Harbour Trust aims to protect the natural beauty and wildlife habitats of Chichester Harbour primarily through the acquisition of land within the AONB, working in partnership with the Chichester Harbour Conservancy, landowners, local authorities to achieve its goals.
‘The harbour is a fragile eco system and a recent report by Natural England highlights quite starkly the ecological decline of Chichester Harbour – it is now classified in an "unfavourable - declining" condition,’ says Nicky Horter, Trust Administrator for the charity. ‘This is in part due to the coastal squeeze – a phenomenon where habitats, especially saltmarsh, are becoming squeezed against hard sea defences with nowhere to roll back to. There is also the issue of nitrification of tidal environment, which is related to wider land use and farming through freshwater inputs, and from the three water treatment works that discharge into the Harbour. Although the impact of this is from a much wider catchment area, it has a very concentrated effect in the harbour. For example, it can encourage growth of micro algae, which makes it difficult for the wildlife that live there to feed on the mudflats, especially migrating wading birds.’
Three ways to support Chichester Harbour Trust in West Sussex
Make your voice heard. ‘We urge people to engage in local democracy, to make their voices heard and to let their elected members know their feelings about over-development in the District,’ says Nicky.
Take nothing but memories, leave only footprints. ‘When visiting, we would advise you to stick to the public footpaths,’ says Nicky. ‘Birds are breeding in the harbour at this time of year so we ask people to be very careful when walking and to keep dogs under close control. It goes without saying to be considerate about taking rubbish home to avoid littering and plastic pollution.’
Support efforts if you can. ‘People can support us financially if they are able to,’ says Nicky. ‘We crowdfund for projects to try and buy land, as that's our main mode of operation. We believe the best way to secure land for conservation is either to own it or control it though a long lease.' The Trust now holds over 275 acres of land in 13 sites around the harbour.
Enjoying Chichester Harbour AONB for years to come
Photography enthusiast Bill Barwell, who lives in Angmering, has been visiting Chichester Harbour during the pandemic as a way to soothe the mind during testing times.
‘These pictures are part of many I have taken since the first lock-down, the wide-open spaces of beach and sky has helped me enormously to cope,’ he says. ‘It has been liberating, in fact. Seeking unusual viewpoints or just capturing the vast sky and differing weather conditions and finding photographic interest in even the smallest details has been and continues to be a wonderful distraction.'
John Nelson, Chairman of Chichester Harbour Trust says: ‘The harbour has provided a haven for people during challenging times. It’s a place they can go to enjoy the great outdoors and experience nature and I think that has had a huge impact on people's emotional and physical wellbeing. We are working really hard to keep it that way so it’s still available for people to enjoy far into the future.’