A fundraising campaign launched by the South Downs National Park Trust received an overwhelming response from the community, who donated nearly three times the initial target amount.
Trees for the Downs went from strength to strength, raising a staggering £175,000 in 18 months after generous donations smashed the £61,500 target.
This support has meant the trust can set its sights on planting tens of thousands more trees than planned, with the goal now set at £260,000 so the trust can plant 100,000 trees across Hampshire and Sussex.
Julie Fawcett, chairman of the South Downs National Park Trust, 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!
‘I’d like to thank each and every person, community group and business that has donated to this inspiring campaign – every penny counts and every tree planted will make a difference.
‘Trees are just incredible for the environment – they provide a home to so much wildlife, provide oxygen, improve the soil, help fight climate change and, last but not least, are really beautiful to look at! Unfortunately, many wonderful trees have been lost from the landscape due to pests and diseases and that’s why we want to restore them.
‘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.’
The charity appeal was first launched in autumn 2019 to restore trees that have been lost over the past few decades, including to fungal diseases ash dieback and Dutch elm disease.
Around 10,000 trees have already been planted at more than a dozen sites, after farmers, landowners and community groups were able to apply for funding for the trees.
The trees will be a mixture of black poplar, oak, field maple and disease-resistant elms, and the aim is to plant them in community spaces and along roads and popular walking routes.
Trees will be planted in phases over the next four years, and applications are now open for future rounds of planting.
Visit southdownstrust.org.uk/trees-for-the-downs to learn more and donate.