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Trees Bring a New Lease of Life to the South Downs

As the warmth of spring sunshine bathes the South Downs, thousands of new life-giving trees are sprouting up from the soil.

It’s been a busy few months because well over 11,000 trees have been planted across the region – on top of 10,000 trees planted during the previous winter.

Now the inspiring initiative, called “Trees for The Downs”, is putting out the call for new applications for even more tree planting in 2022. SI Southern England was successful in fulfilling one of those applications by donating £900 to plant 100 trees for the SI centenary.

SISE President Julie Blackwell and SI Salisbury member Liz Batten went along to the planting…………….

……………..A hundred trees were planted at Longmoor Military Training Estate, near Liss, as part of a joint initiative with Soroptimist International, a global women’s organization celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2021. Tree planting mirrors the project of 1921 when the organization began in Oakland, California, and women were successful in protecting redwood trees at that time.

President Julie Blackwell, Dane Brewer and Liz Batten planting elms

The tree planting is restoring those lost to pests and diseases, including Ash Dieback and Dutch Elm Disease, as well as creating new habitat for wildlife and amenity value for local communities. The trees will be a mixture of disease-resistant elm trees and native species, such as oak and black poplar. Sites include schools, farms, recreation grounds and historic parks.

Sonia Lorenzo-Martin, Woodlands Lead for the National Park Authority, said: “We’ve worked really hard with partners this winter to plant all these new trees and are excited to plant even more later this year.  “Trees are amazing and such an important part of the South Downs landscape, which has more woodland by area than any other National Park in England and Wales. They give us clean air to breathe and are the life support for so many animals and other plants.”

And Sonia added: “Trees for the Downs is also an important strand of the National Park’s long-term ‘ReNature’ initiative, fighting biodiversity loss and also helping to tackle climate change and creating a more resilient ecosystem in the future.”

Andy Player, who helps to manage woodland at Longmoor for the MoD, said: “The trees are not only increasing the number of trees, but also the species diversity, providing habitat for the endangered white letter hairstreak butterfly. These trees are also mitigating the effects of climate change and enhancing the amenity value of the treescape of the camp and training area for the benefit of visiting troops and the public.  We appreciate the support of the South Downs National Park Trust, and are also pleased to have received additional support from Soroptimist International during their milestone year.”

To find out more about making an application for Trees for the Downs, visit