Thousands of trees to be planted across South Downs in five-year plan to tackle climate change

More than 11,000 trees will be planted in local schools, farms and parks this winter to support wildlife and help nature recover as part of the Trees for the Downs campaign.

Sites across West Sussex, including Leconfield Estate in Petworth, Stansted Park near Westbourne, and Hollycombe School in Milland, will be receiving new trees as part of the Trees for the Downs campaign.

The first batch of trees — seven oaks and a range of hazel and field maple whips — were planted earlier this week at the Goodwood Estate, and a further 300 disease-resistant elms will be planted on the estate in January to help create a new wildlife corridor.

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Assisted by children from The March Primary School, the Chair of the National Park Authority, Ian Phillips, joined the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex, Susan Pyper, and the Duchess of Richmond and Gordon for the tree planting ceremony as part of The Queen’s Green Canopy initiative to mark the Platinum Jubilee next year.

The Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex with pupils from the March Primary CE School.

Mr Phillips said: “The South Downs National Park is, somewhat surprisingly, the most wooded of all of England’s National Parks and we recognise the important benefits that trees bring to the landscape, nature, the economy and people.

“We want to extend and promote the role of trees in our National Park through sensitive and practical planting and good management – in town and country. I would therefore like to thank all those organisations and individuals who have contributed to the South Downs Trust’s Trees for the Downs campaign.

“This aims to plant 100,000 new trees in the South Downs over five years as an investment in a more sustainable future and we are well on the way to achieving this.”

The Trust is working with the National Park Authority’s woodlands team to deliver the tree planting project.

National Park Authority Chairman Ian Phillips with the Duchess of Richmond and Gordon and the Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex

Schools, farms, recreation grounds and historic parks across the region will see significant planting and restoration of trees that have been lost to Ash Dieback and Dutch Elm Disease.

The supply of new trees, which will be a mixture of disease-resistant elms and native species, has only been made possible thanks to the 'tremendous' public response to the Trees for the Downs campaign, which launched at the end of 2019.

Almost £200,000 has been raised by the South Downs National Park Trust, which has set its sights on raising £260,000 to be able to plant 100,000 trees in total.

More than 8,000 trees were planted across the South Downs last winter and this new batch will bring much-needed new habitat for wildlife, help to restore soils and give amenity value to local communities.

Mrs Pyper said: “This is just the beginning of an ambitious and impressive tree planting programme across the National Park and, as both Lord-Lieutenant of West Sussex and President of the South Downs National Park Trust, I am delighted to be joined by the Duchess of Richmond here at Goodwood.

"The ‘Queen’s Green Canopy’ initiative is a perfect way to celebrate the Queen’s 70 years as our sovereign and I encourage everyone who can to play even a tiny part in planting a tree for the jubilee.”

As well as scores of public donations, the Trees for the Downs campaign has received backing from a range of regional organisations and businesses, including Aspinal of London, Boltini Trust, Chalk Cliff Trust, the Cinven Foundation, Friends of the South Downs, Jude’s, Nyetimber, South East Water and the Swire Charitable Trust. The disease-resistant elms have been pioneered by Hillier.

The Trust hopes to plant further trees in phases over the next three years, until 2025, and applications are open for future round of planting. If you are interested in getting involved, email: [email protected] for more details.

Applications are welcome from landowners, farmers, parish and town councils, schools and community groups.

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