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New Chief Executive at Ashdown Forest

By Peter Lindsey

THE new Chief Executive at Ashdown Forest has vowed: “I love the Forest and I want to make a real difference.”

Mark Pearson, 52, has taken over from James Adler, who died suddenly last May aged just 41.

The pair worked together for many years at Surrey Wildlife Trust, and Mark is keen to continue on his predecessor’s work.

He said: “I am honoured to have taken on this role, following the outstanding work from James, and I inherit a great hard-working and passionate team.

“I have always had a love for Ashdown Forest. I live locally in Lewes and I brought my family up in East Sussex. It’s a beautiful area and I love the community.

“I will continue with the current Vision – and that’s to protect and preserve the Forest for generations to come. While we need to focus on the Forest, I’m also looking to connect more land up around the area – nature has no boundaries, and that’s why our Weald to Waves project is so crucial.

“Nature cannot survive in fragments. Weald to Waves is about establishing a 100-mile nature recovery corridor across Sussex.”

Mark started his working life as a Ranger at the Hastings Country Park back in the 1990s. He then became Head Ranger at Derbyshire County Council before working initially for Sussex Wildlife Trust, then Surrey Wildlife Trust and the Canal and River Trust.

He’s delighted to be back working in East Sussex.

“Of course, there are many priorities, there always are, but right at the top of the list must be the future of Ashdown Forest from a conservation perspective. We have to look at the Forest within the scope of the larger Sussex landscape.

“I am also very keen to engage with local community groups and parish councils, and I also want to expand our volunteering base. Volunteers are so important to organisations like ours. I want to work with local people and communities that benefit from the Forest in their daily lives.

“2026 will mark 100 years since AA Milne wrote the original Winnie Pooh, much of it while he was in the Ashdown Forest, and we are currently looking at how we can celebrate this anniversary in a creative and imaginative way.”

Mark enjoys being a leader and empowering other people in the journey forward. It’s a journey he’s looking forward to…