A major campaign to plant over 100,000 trees across the South Downs has launched.

Following a tremendous public response to the initial 2019/2020 appeal, Trees for the Downs will now look to plant tens of thousands more trees than originally planned.

The campaign smashed its target of £61,500 – raising £175,000 in 18 months.

Now, the South Downs National Park Trust has set its sights on raising a total of £260,000 to be able to plant 100,000 trees across Hampshire and Sussex.

The trees, a mixture of species including black poplar, oak, field maple and disease-resistant elms, will be planted in community spaces and along roads and popular walking routes.

The charity appeal launched in autumn 2019 to restore trees that have been lost over the past few decades, including those to ash dieback and Dutch elm disease.

As well as scores of public donations, the campaign has received backing from a range of regional organisations and businesses, including Aspinal of London, Boltini Trust, Chalk Cliff Trust, Friends of the South Downs, Jude’s, Nyetimber, South East Water and the Swire Charitable Trust.

Julie Fawcett, chair of the South Downs National Park Trust, the official charity for the National Park, said: “The response to Trees for the Downs has been overwhelming and far exceeded our expectations. I think it shows how much we love our trees!

“Trees for the Downs also goes hand in hand with the National Park’s nature recovery drive – helping wildlife to flourish once again in our countryside, villages, towns and cities.

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“We’ve significantly upped our target and would like to raise about another £85,000 to be able to plant a total of 100,000 trees for the campaign.”

Some 10,000 of the 100,000 trees are already in the ground, with planting taking place last winter at more than a dozen sites across Hampshire, West and East Sussex. Farmers, landowners and community groups applied for funding for the trees from the Trust.

Almost 4,000 trees were planted in the Adur and Worthing area, with 2,000 trees at Lancing Ring, 1,300 trees planted at Sheepcombe Hanger in Findon Valley and around 650 trees now in the ground at Gallops in Findon Valley.

Peter Whish, arboricultural inspector for Adur and Worthing Councils, said: “Thanks to Trees for the Downs we have been able to quickly begin the restoration of our public open spaces on the South Downs which have lost significant trees to ash dieback.

“Replanting with a good diversity of trees will help build resilience into these precious landscapes for the future.”

The Trust hopes to plant the trees in phases over the next four years, until 2025, and applications are now open for future round of planting. Those interested can email grants@southdowns.gov.uk for more details.

Applications are welcome from landowners, farmers, parish and town councils, schools and community groups, including those within the National Park and those near the National Park boundary.

To donate to Trees for the Downs, click here.

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