west sussex county times

Bid to save trees from extinction 

Friday February 8, 2008

THE FIGHT to save the black poplar tree from extinction has seen a mass planting in Shipley.

More than 1,300 of the rare riverside trees were set in the ground on Friday February 1 on a one hectare site at Tenchford Bridge, previously used as a horse paddock.

Organisations involved in the project included Sussex Wildlife Trust (SWT), West Sussex County Council Low Weald and 'Gatwick 'Green Space.

Fran Southgate, an officer with the Sussex Otters and Rivers Project (SORP), led the project. She said: "'The volunteers were great - they worked hard to plant all the trees.

"This area will be one of the first wet woodlands with native poplars in Sussex. It includes nearly 70 black poplar trees taken as cuttings from the only 33 remaining mature black poplars in the county.

"The Sussex Black Poplar Group has been working to save the black poplar for ten years.

"By recreating its traditional habitat, it is hoped that these rare, trees may be able to reproduce naturally for the first time.

"Floodplain woodland is almost an extinct habitat in Sussex."

Miss Southgate added: "What we are trying to encourage is more flooding in rural areas, in appropriate areas, which would takeaway flooding from urban areas.

"A lot of our rivers are very over managed and do not flood naturally.'

Already signs are showing that the woodland area is doing what is             required.

"The site flooded every time we tried to plant trees," explained Miss Southgate. "It is' brilliant because that is what we wanted it to do - but obviously we can't plapt trees when it is flooded."

Floodplain woodlands are an almost extinct habitat type in Sussex and without intervention these trees are likely to become extinct in the near future.

" Charlie Burrell, the local ]landowner, is, actively helping to restore wildlife to the whole of the Knepp.

This floodplain woodland planting project is just one of his initiatives.

The estate is also working closely with local organisations to restore more than two kilometers of river to its natural state, as well as more than 5OOO acres of land to more natural, "wildlife management.

For More Information on SORP visit the website www.sussexwt.org.uk