The city is home to a great variety of common and rare animal and plant species, including European Protected Species such as Dormouse, Great Crested Newt and several species of bat. It also supports 278 hectares of unimproved chalk grassland and just under a hectare of coastal vegetated shingle, which are both habitats of UK and European importance. In total, one-sixth of the city's area is covered by a nature conservation designation and 10% of its land surface is occupied by semi-natural habitat.
The city is home to the national elm collection. This is of international importance for preserving elms and also serves to protect the wildlife that depends upon it. Much of the collection are street trees serving the added benefit of being heat sinks and taking up pollutants.
The city has about 50 active ‘friends’ groups working to conserve green spaces.
Urban vegetation lessens climate change effects by reducing a city's "heat island" effect and filtering UV rays.
Brighton & Hove currently has seven ‘green flag’ parks (The Level, Easthill Park, St Ann's Well Gardens, Preston Park, Kipling Gardens, Stoneham Recreation Ground and Hove Park).
There is no clear picture of how biodiversity is changing locally but available evidence points to a continuing loss of species and habitats. People benefit from experiencing nature as a part of everyday life but increasing urbanisation and sedentary lifestyles mean that many are becoming more isolated from it in practice.