Pevensey Levels was designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in 1990 and in 1999 became a Ramsar Site of International Wetland Importance.

This low-lying marshland supports a rich community of plants and animals including the rare Fen Raft Spider, which is widespread on the Levels. With a white stripe down the side of its abdomen, the Fen Raft Spider can be confused with a similar species, but as Britain's largest spider it is easy to recognize when it is fully-grown.

Twenty-one of Britain's 38 dragonfly species have been recorded on the Levels and 20 per cent of Sussex' breeding population of yellow wagtails nest there.

Four of Britain's rarest freshwater snails (molluscs) also like the conditions on Pevensey Levels where they make their homes in the lime rich drainage ditches. The Little Whirlpool Ram's horn, Shining Ram's-horn, the Large-mouthed Valve Snail and the False Orb Pea Mussel all appear on threatened species lists.

Pevensey Levels offer the water vole a great habitat with an extensive network of ditches and drainage channels, but there were only three records of water voles in the 1980s.

If you spot any surviving colonies on the Levels or anywhere in Sussex contact your local Environment Agency office.

Sadly, there has been a decline in the numbers of breeding and wintering birds over the last 30 years and today, despite its extensive area, the Pevensey Levels no longer support any species in nationally important numbers.

It is widely believed that the decline the in wet grassland species such as wintering Wigeon, teal and snipe and breeding Redshank, Lapwing and snipe resulted from the installation of pumped drainage in the late 1960s

It is hoped that the Environment Agency's Water Level Management Plans currently being implemented can help raise water levels and in places, encourage managed shallow flooding to benefit waterfowl and wildlife. However, their success chiefly depends on the co-operation of the different users of the Levels.

Updated: Saturday, October 4, 2014 8:59