The South Downs National Park Authority is aiming to raise more than £100m over the next 10 years to create an extra 13,000 hectares of land dedicated to the preservation of nature.
These ambitious plans would mean an area over three times the size of Portsmouth – around 21,000 football pitches – would be preserved as nature reserves, woods, heaths, and flower-rich road verges.
The campaign would see these wild areas increase from 25 per cent of the national park to 33 per cent.
It comes as figures recently released show that around a quarter of the UK’s wild mammals could also be at risk of disappearing altogether due to environmental degradation.
Ecologist Andrew Lee, head of countryside policy and management for the national park, said: ‘The biodiversity crisis is real and it’s happening before our eyes, but the good news is it’s not too late to turn the tide of wildlife loss.
‘Nature needs us now and we also need nature, perhaps now more than ever before in this post-pandemic world where green spaces have taken on a new level of importance.
‘Apart from being incredibly beautiful and part of our shared appreciation for Planet Earth, nature gives us everything – whether it be clean water, fresh air or food to eat.
‘We’re launching this campaign without a moment to lose because it’s time for all of us to help nature to renature.’
A donation of just £5 could pay for a square meter of wildflower meadow, which provides a vital habitat for bees and butterflies.
Julie Fawcett, chair of the South Downs National Park Trust, said: ‘We know we’re aiming big with our fundraising target, but nature desperately needs our help. As a charity, we hope to raise the funds over the next decade in a variety of ways, including donations, grants, public funds and private finance.
‘Whether it be making a donation, putting up a bird box in your garden or planting a tree at your school, everyone can help nature.’
To donate to the South Downs National Park Trust’s appeal visit southdowns.enthuse.com/HelpNatureReNature.