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The area known as the Pevensey Levels
is a Site of Special Scientific Interest
A Site of Special Scientific Interest is a conservation designation denoting a protected area in the United Kingdom. SSSIs are the basic building block of site-based nature conservation legislation and most other legal nature/geological conservation designations in Great Britain are based upon...
(SSSI) notified under Section 28 of the
Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. It is an area of marshland situated between Bexhill
Bexhill-on-Sea is a town and seaside resort in the county of East Sussex, in the south of England, within the District of Rother. It has a population of approximately 40,000...
in the east, Pevensey
Pevensey is a village and civil parish in the Wealden district of East Sussex, England. The main village is located 5 miles north-east of Eastbourne, one mile inland from Pevensey Bay. The settlement of Pevensey Bay forms part of the parish.-Geography:The village of Pevensey is located on...
in the west and Hailsham
Hailsham is a civil parish and the largest of the five main towns in the Wealden district of East Sussex, England. Mentioned in the Domesday Book, the town of Hailsham has had a long history of industry and agriculture...
in the north. The site covers an area of 8650.9 acres (3,500.9 ha).
The area is a conservation area owned jointly by Natural England and the Sussex Wildlife Trust. There are many nationally rare plants and invertebrates, including the fen raft spider
The great raft spider or fen raft spider is a European species of spider in the Pisauridae family. Like other Dolomedes spiders, it is semi-aquatic, hunting its prey on the surface of water...
. The site is very fragile and general access is not permitted
At the end of the last glaciation, about 10,000 years ago, rising sea-levels flooded the lower reaches of the numerous coastal river valleys in the Pevensey area. This resulted in the creation of a tidal estuary with a wide bay. The present Levels were under water.
Over hundreds of years, the Levels gradually changed from saltmarsh to reedy meadows although much of the area was still under water as recently as 700 to 800 years ago.