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.