The completion of a new wetlands project at Horsham’s Chesworth Farm was celebrated by volunteers at the weekend.
The aim of the project was to recreate the natural habitat of the Riverside Field, which is next to the River Arun, to what it was many years ago, and at the same time stop the extensive erosion of the riverbank.
The project was a result of a joint initiative between Friends of Chesworth Farm (FCF) and Horsham District Council (HDC).
Diane Sumpter, chair of FCF, and chairman of the council Brian O’Connell shared ribbon cutting duties on Saturday November 1.
The group of volunteers received a message of support from its president and former Lib Dem Horsham district councillor Kate Parminter, now Baroness Parminter as a member of the House of Lords.
She said: “Although the project is only just finished, birds not normally seen at Chesworth Farm and rare fauna and flora have already been spotted in the riverside walk.
“This is tremendously exciting for us and for the people of Horsham who can now enjoy even more nature at first hand on their doorstep.”
She added: “The friends committee have worked tirelessly - having an input at every stage of the project as well as making daily photographic records of the site before and during the construction work.
“They have made extensive lists of the birds and other animals visiting the site as well as recording and mapping its plants.”
Volunteers hope the project will see a resurgence in wildlife there including frogs, dragonflies and birds.
The project also involves council-owned cattle being reintroduced to the targeted fields, along with new pathways, information boards, and observation points for visitors to the area.
The works were conceived as a way of improving Chesworth Farm for visitors and encouraging more people to visit the 90-acre farmland site, which includes footpaths and bridleways, incorporating grassland, wet meadow, ancient hedgerows and access to the greater countryside.
Funds were raised through developer contributions, the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arun and Rother Connections Project.
The main entry to Chesworth Farm is at the end of Queensway off Brighton Road.
For more information on Chesworth Farm visit http://friendsofchesworthfarm.com