Volunteers from the Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust had planned to celebrate National Tree Week in ambitious style – by planting 1,000 trees on a riverside site near Sheffield Park.
But the weather was against them. On the appointed starting day not only was the planting site under water but also the
track that led to it.
By the following Friday, however, the floodwater had drained away sufficiently to enable planting to begin.
It was quite an experience for the seven gallant volunteers just to reach the site – a magnificent bow wave preceded their truck as it transported the precious trees across a ford.
“What a daunting view,” commented Lesley Williams, “as we teetered on the verge of descending down the ford into the river – but down we went with water spilling over the bonnet and then under the doors into the cab.”
Several hours later, breaking the ice as they worked, the hardy group succeeded in planting more than 520 trees. In the next few days, and helped by volunteers from the Environment Agency, another 300 trees were planted.
The work would continue until all are planted.
The idea is partly to create a valuable wet woodland habitat for wildlife but, perhaps more importantly for the people of Lewes, the trees will slow down the movement of rainwater on top of and within the ground, thereby reducing the rapid rise in water in the River Ouse that has previously resulted in the flooding of the county town after prolonged heavy rain.
The cost of the planting was covered by a Woodland Creation Grant from the Forestry Commission.
The Ouse and Adur Rivers Trust was formed from the amalgamation of the Sussex Ouse Conservation Society and the River Adur Conservation Society.