Minister ‘honoured’ to plant oak in South Downs National Park

Lord Gardiner planting a tree with local schoolchildren to mark National Tree Week, during a visit to the South Downs National Park
Lord Gardiner planting a tree with local schoolchildren to mark National Tree Week, during a visit to the South Downs National Park

Lord Gardiner, minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity, paid a special visit to the South Downs National Park.

Marking the beginning of National Tree Week on December 1, Lord Gardiner helped to plant a tree hoped to become a future ancient monument. He was helped by pupils from Easebourne CE Primary School.

Lord Gardiner said: “I am delighted to be here in this wonderful and wooded National Park, to celebrate National Tree Week. We can all be proud of these beautiful parts of our country. It has been a particular honour to plant an oak, which I am proud to call our national tree. It is vitally important we continue to value our nation’s trees, ensuring their resilience against the threats they face. That is why we are investing more than £37 million to understand pests and diseases and find new ways to tackle them.”

The locally sourced and grown oak tree was sited in a hedgerow, the location of which was selected to maximise the benefit to wildlife and biodiversity.

Pauline Buchanan Black, director-general of The Tree Council, said: “The Natural Capital Committee recently advised Government that trees can deliver major gains as part of the 25 year Environment Plan. Their huge economic and environmental value has been understated and it’s time that intellectual as well as landscape views were changed to recognise that. National Tree Week is a good moment to pause, recognise and celebrate the value of trees across the UK. The girth and species of any tree recorded by the public on the online Treezilla map will used to analyse the monetary contribution each tree makes to the people, wildlife and environment nearby.”

Margaret Paren, chair of the SDNPA, said: “Trees and woodlands are a vital part of this beautiful landscape but they need managing to benefit wildlife and boost local timber production. That’s why we have established a Forestry Champions Group to bring together foresters, architects, the timber industry, estates and small woodland owners to improve their conservation and enhance them for the future.”