A Sign of the Times

In celebration of the Queen’s diamond jubilee, a giant ‘E’, 100 metres tall has been fashioned out of trees in the National Park.  Situated on the north facing slope of the South Downs above the village of Firle in East Sussex, it’s similar to the giant ‘V’ created to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee at Streat.

Initially the idea was to plant trees in the shape of an ‘E’ but this caused a lot of concern as it would have damaged important and rare chalk grassland.  So instead, scrub and woodland has been cleared to reveal an ‘E’ made up of untouched trees.

The removed woodland had developed from scrub and a lack of management of the area.  Its clearance will lead to a re-establishement of chalk grassland, which today covers less than 5% of the South Downs, and is to be welcomed.

There may be differing views as to the value of carrying out such a project and whether we should be creating artificial shapes, albeit out of natural materials, in prominent locations on the Downs.  There is also a risk that ravers might be attracted to the site given its symbolism and the passion for partying in the area.

Whatever the concerns, we shall have to wait and see how it develops.  One thing for sure is that it shows what can be done with a bit of passion and goodwill.  All the work has been done by volunteers and with help from local firms.

The ‘E’ will be officially ‘opened’ by a member of the royal family in the spring.

Secret woodland history could be revealed

The South Downs National Park Authority has successfully passed the first hurdle in its bid for Heritage Lottery Funding (HLF) for its ‘In the High Wood’ project.  It has been awarded £46,300 to develop the project in preparation for a full funding bid in Spring 2013.

‘In the High Wood’ aims to uncover the secret history of the densely wooded part of the South Downs between the River Adur and the A3, covering some 304 square kilometres, nearly 20% of the National Park.  This is an area, much of which lies under ancient forest, and of which very little is known about its past.  The plan is to use aerial survey techniques to uncover features which are impossible to see on the ground.  Then by working with local communities, the Park Authority hopes to be able to build a more complete picture as to what our ancestors have been doing here over the past 4,000 years.

The £1 million project is being led by the South Downs National Park Authority, in partnership with Chichester District Council and with the support of West Sussex and Hampshire County Councils.  The Park Authority is likely to contribute £130,000 towards the overall costs.  Its success in securing this early HLF funding should mean that it has a very good chance of succeeding with its final bid application next year and therefore of this exciting project going ahead.