It is easy to appreciate the beauty of nature whilst enjoying the many benefits that fishing provides, but sometimes the intensity of a session can mean you miss the wonders that surround you. Love Fishing Love Nature is an Angling Trust campaign which aims to highlight and strengthen an angler’s love for the great outdoors and general appreciation of the environment.
Love Fishing Love Nature (LFLN) is also focused on showcasing the importance of the great angler-led conservation work that is helping to protect and improve biodiversity all over the country at this crucial time. Today we’re at Furnace Brook a venue in East Sussex that is managed to respond to climate and ecological change. It’s the perfect case study for the Love Fishing Love Nature campaign. For a start, there’s uninterrupted peace, amidst the melodic birdsong. It’s a haven for wildlife and humans alike. Along with the opportunity to fish, the serenity of life in this moment is your only focus.
You pause and inhale the crisp fresh morning air and as the winter sun emerges from between the trees and reflects upon the tranquil stream fed lake in front of you, you in turn take time to reflect. Environments like this offer a chance to detach yourself from the bustle of modern life and return to a simplicity formed long ago in the natural beauty that surrounds us. Furnace Brook is a verdurous 15-acre site and home to a bountiful Coarse Fishery and Art & Ecology Hub. Einstein once said, “Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better”. This sentiment is very much at the heart of Furnace Brook’s ethos of working in harmony with the natural world and its multifaceted ecosystems and providing a sanctuary for anglers and the biodiversity that they can help support.
The venue is perfectly situated. It nestles in a secluded valley within the protected landscape of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and operates as a Community Interest Company. In addition to the running of the fishery and fish farm, the team works with partners on a range of regenerative design approaches, researching and prototyping models for sustainable living & supporting resilient communities.
The site acts as a hub for a range of emerging sustainably focused micro-enterprises, including a craft brewery, as well as offering courses, venue-hire & accommodation.
The ongoing management plan of the fishery is particularly focused on enhancing the ecosystem of the main lake, enriching, and creating an environment for the fish to thrive in. The diverse aquatic ecosystem includes a very wide variety of fish species, helping provide a perfect fishing experience for visiting anglers. This is a mixed coarse fishery. The wide variety of other species include roach, rudd, perch, Crucian carp, barbel and tench alongside the occasional trout which enter the lake from the brook that constantly feeds the lake and helps maintain exemplary water quality throughout the year.
In addition to the 17 widely spread established swims, there has been work undertaken in recent years to shape a particularly unusual overnight fishing experience for small groups of anglers at ‘Batsford Hollow’ at the northern end of the lake. This area now features some bespoke shelters, crafted from local resources, in a particularly idyllic setting around the island – an ideal environment for not only the fish to flourish but also anglers to experience the benefits of ‘ecotherapy’!
Research studies show how angling is very much a form of ecotherapy. Fishing can even be prescribed through a GP as part of an alternative social prescribing initiative to help improve mental and physical health. There is also an increasing body of research showing that immersing yourself amongst trees can reduce your blood pressure and stress levels, improve your metabolic health, lower your blood sugar levels and improve your pain response. Trees produce natural oils called phytoncides, these oils can lower the symptoms of depression & anxiety, improve mood and increase concentration & memory. And you thought you were just going fishing!
The pace of life in these times can often be exhausting. Taking a step back and retreating to a gentler pace of living, even for a few hours, can be enough to instil a deeper sense of restfulness and a much-needed rejuvenation. For venues such as this, it is easy to share an enthusiasm for protecting and establishing healthy ecologies when it also helps increase biodiversity; makes happier fish and ultimately, happier anglers!
Sitting at the water’s edge and embracing the stillness and calm, your eye is suddenly drawn to a dash of electric blue and copper, a kingfisher diving for a quick hunting spree. When you take the time, you’d be surprised just how many different species you can spot.
At Furnace Brook they’ve created a helpful bird spotting guide for you to report your sightings. It’s a small yet thoughtful feature which other venues might adopt, especially with more species on the red list of conservation concern than ever before. Participation in monitoring and conservation has never been more important and crucial data provided by anglers can improve the understanding of resident and migratory species to better improve habitats, breeding and feeding opportunities.
Here, the overall aim, with thanks to the input of this angler-led conservation work, is to encourage and increase the number of amphibians, birds, insects and invertebrates which are the starting point to ensuring a balanced and diverse web of life. It’s a philosophy the LFLN campaign seeks to encourage on a wider scale.
All efforts are working towards the bigger picture of helping to combat climate change. Globally, one in three freshwater species are threatened with extinction and some 87% of wetland habitats have already been lost. At this time of the global and ecological long emergency, we need to explore new models that point directly to the regeneration of our communities and the restoration of the natural world – we can all be such explorers, starting simply from where we are in our lives and enterprises.
The team at Furnace Brook have been gently reshaping and enriching the land and lakes through the collective application of ‘Permaculture’ principles (a holistic and common sense design approach focused on the management of land and lifestyles aligning with nature’s designs). The approaches taken, and partnerships developed, have resulted in Furnace Brook recently being certified as a Gold Standard member of the UNA’s ‘Generation Restoration’ Partnership where the team are actively working in response to the UN’s call.
The Furnace Brook experience certainly engages your senses and immerses you in the magic of fishing and so much more. The great thing is that wherever you are in the country the beauty will be all around you when you’re fishing. So why not share your photos and stories to support the Angling Trust’s campaign by using the hashtag #LoveFishingLoveNature and tagging the Angling Trust on social media? Furnace Brook is the epitome of what LFLN stands for and we’d love to hear of similarly focused venues from anglers in all parts. If you want to find out more about Furnace Brook take a look at their website linked below: http://www.furnacebrook.co.uk.