An inspiring campaign to plant 5,000 trees across the South Downs National Park is edging closer to smashing its fundraising target – and now expressions of interest for planting are being taken.
Trees for the Downs was launched during National Tree Week at the end of November and, in just six months, £52,000 has been raised from donations and gifts. The campaign is aiming to raise £61,500 to restore trees that have been lost over the past few decades, including those to Ash Dieback and Dutch Elm Disease.
While the fundraising continues in earnest, the South Downs National Park Trust is now in a position to be able to open the initial online application process.
The trust, the official charity of the National Park, would be looking to carry out the planting over the winter and is seeking to identify suitable projects that will provide benefits to people, wildlife and the landscape of the South Downs.
Leading horticultural experts from Hillier will be growing and nurturing the trees for the Trust to deliver to the community.
Nick Heasman, countryside and policy manager who heads the National Park’s woodlands team, said: “We’re really excited to have raised £52,000 in six months and I’d like to thank each and every person, business and organisation who has made a donation so far. I think it underlines the love people have for trees in the South Downs.
“Whether a dense enchanting woodland, or a single tree immersed in the rolling landscape or on a village road, our trees are synonymous with the beauty of the South Downs and also critical to its community and ecological value.
“With 85 per cent of the funding secured, we can open the online application process and we’re interested to hear from anyone who wants to plant trees in the South Downs – trees of any size, and planting at any scale, in towns, villages, or in the countryside.
“Priority will be given to those planting trees that will provide benefits to people, wildlife and the landscape of the National Park. So the trees being planted should be visible from a public place, such as the footpath or highway, and provide benefit to wildlife in the South Downs.
“We’ve still got a little way to get to the finish line of fundraising, so help us get there by donating if you can!”
A full list of criteria for consideration can be found on the application website page. Applicants should have control of the land, or permission from the landowner, as well as any other permissions that might relate to the land being planted. Eligible projects must be within the boundary of the National Park.
Nick added: “Trees For The Downs will be a historic replanting initiative as the National Park marks its tenth anniversary. Our focus continues to be on planting trees in places where people can connect with them and form part of people’s everyday life, such as on the walk to school.
“This initiative aims to create a lasting legacy, benefiting communities as they watch these new trees grow and flourish in the years ahead.”
Disease-resistant elm will be key in the replanting as, ecologically speaking, it is the closest match to ash and supports many of the same insect and butterfly species. However, Trees for the Downs will be looking at a range of native species for the replanting, with the emphasis on the ‘right tree in the right place’.
For more information and to find out about making an expression of interest visit: southdownstrust.org.uk/trees-fund/
To donate visit: southdownstrust.org.uk/trees-for-the-downs/