There’s a ghastly predictability to the news that the University of Sussex – in Brighton, naturally – wants to set aside nearly half of its land for ‘rewilding’. According to our local paper, the Argus :
‘The University of Sussex will rewild 42 per cent of its campus land in a move which aims to promote more biodiversity, achieved by designating land into areas where the grass will be cut a limited number of times a year as well as other areas where no mowing will take place. Vice-chancellor Professor Sasha Rosenail said: “The loss of nature should be of crucial concern to every inhabitant of our planet…universities, particularly those fortunate to have large, non-urban campuses, can and should play a leading role in guiding nature’s recovery”.’
The comments section – where the traditional roustabout side of Brighton makes its plain-speaking presence felt – was less than enthusiastic. Some pointed out that as the campus is adjacent to the South Downs (an area of outstanding national beauty) it’s teeming with biodiversity anyhow; talk about taking coleanthus to Lewes castle. Several commentators believe that this is just an attempt to save money on maintenance; ‘Teenagers rewild their rooms by never cleaning them – lots of bio-diversity in there!’
You can’t blame us for being cynical. This is, after all, Brighton where the Labour (and then Green) council banned certain pesticides and allowed weeds to reclaim hundreds of miles of pavement – to the extent that old ladies ended up in hospital after nasty falls and dog-owners were forced to cover their pets’ heads with snoods lest the nasty seed-spears which lurked in the ‘bio-diverse’ foxtail barley grass become lodged in their ears or paws.