Habitats Overview

Sussex has a wide range of habitats including flower-rich meadows, ancient wooded valleys, coastal sand dunes and shingle. Many of these habitats have declined in area and quality over the past 100 years, leading to the writing of the Sussex Biodiversity Action Plan.

This plan reflects UK targets for habitats of conservation concern, and translates them to a local level. Priority habitats in Sussex with action plan targets are shown below.

For each habitat you will find information on:

  • The status of the habitat
  • The factors threatening the habitat
  • The action needed to conserve the habitat
  • The targets being worked towards

Our habitats and species are an integral part of Sussex, and the Biodiversity Action Plan aims to ensure people can work together to protect them.

In line with the England Biodiversity Strategy and the South East Biodiversity Strategy, the Sussex Biodiversity Action Plan aims to integrate the needs of species and habitats within landscape-scale delivery.

Our work on habitats will incorporate actions for associated priority species. Species not covered by this integration are being identified regionally along with the work necessary to support them and we will work with the relevant bodies to deliver the actions required in Sussex.

1. Lowland Farmland

Approximately 60% of Sussex is farmed, with both arable and livestock production taking place. Well-managed arable land can have high value of habitat particularly where features such as hedgerows, ponds and unimproved grasslands are found.

Arable Field Margins
Lowland Calcareous Grassland
Lowland Dry Acid Grassland
Lowland Heathland
Lowland Meadows
Purple Moor Grass and Rush Pastures
Traditional Orchards

2. Wetlands

Sussex’s five rivers; the Cuckmere, Arun, Ouse, Adur and Rother support a range of habitats and species. The diversity of wetland habitat includes areas of fen, wet grassland, reedbeds and ponds.

Coastal and Floodplain Grazing Marsh
Eutrophic Standing Waters
Lowland Fens

3. Coastal

Photo: Sussex Wildlife Trust

With just over 220km of coastline, Sussex has a wide variety of coastal habitats including sand dunes, mudflats and cliffs. This diversity continues into the marine environment with habitats such as intertidal chalk and blue mussel beds providing for a wealth of marine life.

Coastal Saltmarsh
Coastal Sand Dunes
Coastal Vegetated Shingle
Intertidal Mudflats
Maritime Cliff and Slope
Saline Lagoons

4. Woodland

Sussex is one of the most wooded areas of lowland Britain, with 6% of the county covered with ancient semi-natural woodland. A range of woodland types can be found including commoner Oak-Hornbeam woodlands, along with rarer Large-leaved Lime and ghyll woodlands.

Wood-pasture and Parkland

5. Marine

Photo: Paul Naylor/Sussex Wildlife Trust

Sussex has a rich and diverse underwater world, with many warmer water species reaching the limits of their range in our waters. Some of the marine habitats found in Sussex, such as intertidal and subtidal chalk, are rare globally.

Blue Mussel Beds on Sediment
Intertidal Chalk
Intertidal Underboulder Communities
Mud Habitats in Deep Water
Peat and Clay Exposures
Ross Worm Reefs
Seagrass Beds
Subtidal Chalk
Subtidal Sands and Gravels

6. Urban

Most of Sussex’s residents live or work in an urban area. Within these urban areas, networks of greenspaces can be found, which represent a significant resource for wildlife, as well as providing opportunities for people to experience and interact with the natural environment.

Archived Action Plans

Habitats with Action Plans and targets can be viewed through the habitat pages or by searching the Biodiversity Action Reporting System

Archived Habitat Action Plans can be downloaded below:

Arable Land including Field Margins
Coastal and Floodplain Grazing Marsh
Coastal Vegetated Shingle
Lowland Calcareous Grassland
Lowland Heathland
Saline Lagoons
Standing Fresh Water
Unimproved Neutral and Dry Acid Grassland