Saltdean community

BADGERS SAVED! With your help, this community has protected badgers!

A community in Saltdean, East Sussex, has protected a badger sett from being destroyed by developers. Their story is an inspiration to us all and a perfect example of how we can save wildlife if we work together.

Protect the Wild supporters’ donations were also vital in helping the community purchase the land and save the badgers, and they are grateful to everyone who gave money, no matter how big or small.

Buying land to save wildlife

For four and a half years, the Saltdean community has been working together to purchase a plot which sits between their houses. In August, we published an article, sharing their urgent struggle to protect the land from being auctioned off to developers. And now the neighbours have announced that their non-profit Ausbert Valley Community Interest Company (CIC) is the proud new owner of the land, meaning that the badgers who live there will have a home forever.

The community set up the CIC in 2021. Twelve households are members, and if anyone moves house, the land stays with the community. The plot is not only home to badgers: it’s also a haven for foxes and even has slow worms.

Protect the Wild spoke with community member Debbie Julians about their victory. She was celebratory, saying:

“It’s not all sinking in quite yet! The badgers have got a forever home. It’s been a long journey. But we’ve signed the contract and the land is ours! It was horrendous to get there; we bought the land by the skin of our teeth, really.”

Debbie continued:

“Every morning I go outside with a smile on my face. The badgers are very cheeky and the landscape changes each day.”


badgers saltdean
The badgers are regularly caught on the community’s cameras

A community bonded for life

We asked Debbie about the history of the struggle to save the badgers. She explained:

“In 2021, my husband and I went round with a clipboard and knocked on everyone’s doors, asking if they would want to be part of a CIC. We did this for over four and a half years, and now twelve households are members. The neighbours have heartfelt stories of their memories of the land and wanting to live among the badgers and wildlife. One woman lost her husband, and she donated £5,000 because he used to love the field.”

We asked her whether the experience had brought the community together. She replied:

“Oh, yes! The bond between us neighbours is unbelievable. A lot of people have been here since they were children and didn’t know their neighbours around the triangle until this. One lady worried that she will never be able to help out on the land, but I told her she can make us tea. It’s brought us together – what a fantastic community. We’re bonded for life now.”

She continued:

“We had to stand up to negativity: we’ve had to be quite strong, keep going and believe in each other. People tried to put us down and said we’d never do it. But my advice to anyone else who wants to do similar to us is: don’t listen to the negativity. Flick off the bullies who think it is only them who can do it. Communities can do it together. We beat the big boys.”

Indeed, just as the community succeeded in purchasing the land, Debbie caught a developer sniffing around the plot:

“He told me he had just lost out on the field. And then fell down a badger hole!”


Debbie and her neighbours are grateful to everyone who helped them on their long journey to save their badgers. She said:

“We’d like to say a big thank you to Graham Amy of South Downs Badger Society. He talked me through the whole process, telling me to go to the local paper and to make a crowdfunder. We’re grateful to [local paper] The Argus who started off the publicity, and to Protect the Wild who made it go through the roof.”

She continued:

“A big thank you to everyone who donated. It exceeded everything we dreamt of. We are humbly pleased. It puts faith back in human nature. We had people donating all the way from Ontario, Canada, and people donating hundreds. There were people saying, “sorry I can’t pay any more”, but every little bit was much appreciated. We reached more than our target amount. The extra money will go towards cleaning up the field to make sure that the badgers, foxes and other wildlife will be happy.”

There’s a lot of work to do on the land: the plot has been used as a dumping ground for many years. So the neighbours will clear it and cut back the bramble. They have already installed gates, which are raised so that the badgers can come out at night to explore. There are also cameras to monitor the safety of the wildlife.

Finally, Debbie said:

” If anyone else wants to do the same thing, my message to you is to never ever give up. It took us four and a half years of hard work. To all the cynics out there, we overcame your cynicism and we did it!”


A huge thanks to our supporters

This was of course a huge victory for Debbie and her local community, but as she says above, the crowdfunding ‘went through the roof’ when our wonderful supporters learned about the campaign to buy this plot of land.

From supporting community buy-outs to signing petitions and helping us donate equipment to monitor groups, we are incredibly grateful to the many thousands of you who are helping make Protect the Wild such a force for good. Every day you prove that we are stronger together, more effective when we are united, and can achieve so much more when we work as a team.

Our team – like you – loves wildlife. That love is what guides and inspires everything we do. Thank you for standing with us.