The Queen’s Green Canopy tree planting project
in East Sussex (including Brighton & Hove)
The Queen’s Green Canopy (QGC) is a national tree planting initiative, originally devised to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. It has been extended, at the request of His Majesty the King, to give people the opportunity to plant trees up to the end of March 2023, in memory of Her Majesty and to honour her life of service. The East Sussex Lieutenancy is actively driving and inspiring this project, assisted by Action in rural Sussex. Project Administrator Mark Whitaker is working to support and encourage people to plant trees in The Queen’s memory throughout East Sussex and Brighton & Hove.
Why it’s important
This initiative is creating a living legacy, giving people and communities everywhere the chance to share in celebrating the Queen’s life, her love of trees and her 70 years on the throne. There are trees suitable for small gardens as well as large ones. But we also hope you will find imaginative ways to come together through neighbourhood groups, gardening and environmental groups, clubs, societies and Women’s Institutes to plant trees. In some cases organisations will own a suitable area of land, but if not you could approach the owners of unused pockets of land which could be brought to life with fruit trees or suitable native species.
This project aims to create a national canopy of trees to help reduce the impact of climate change, filter air, increase wildlife habitat and improve the environment for everyone.
Tree planting, in the right circumstances, offers great potential to help buffer the impacts of man-made climate change. Trees lock up carbon from the atmosphere as they grow, as well as improving soils and soil carbon storage. They can also provide flood risk management benefits, pollination benefits and biodiversity benefits – as long as the right tree is planted in the right place.
What’s been happening
This exciting initiative in East Sussex started with the planting by Deputy Lieutenant, the Marquess of Abergavenny of a pear tree at City Academy Whitehawk, in Brighton & Hove, one of 70 trees planted throughout the UK to launch the Queen’s Green Canopy. Speaking to students at the planting ceremony, Lord Abergavenny said ‘The trees will help the environment and support this country’s drive to curb carbon emissions. The aim of the initiative is to encourage the planting of millions of trees in towns, cities and the countryside across the UK.’
While most commemorative tree planting will take place in autumn/winter 2022/23, some planting has happened already, including at local hospices. The first, at St Wilfrid’s Hospice in Eastbourne, in early November 2021 was honoured with a Royal visit by the Duchess of Cornwall, and trees have also been planted at St Michael’s, in St Leonards and at St Peter & St James Hospice in Chailey.
At Eridge Park Estate near Tunbridge Wells, the Lord-Lieutenant of East Sussex Andrew Blackman and Nusrat Ghani MP planted two disease-resistant elms in December, close to where there used to be a beautiful line of elms.
In Eastbourne, in an event attended by lots of interested local people, 30 Sakura cherry trees given to Eastbourne by the Japanese Government were planted in Hampden Park.
In March 2022 a group of trees including elm, field maple and hazel were planted in conjunction with the South Downs National Park Trust at Glyndebourne and overlooking the opera house. There are more details and photos on our news pages.
Another tree planting in March was on the Spa Valley Railway near Groombridge Station and included a drop off of the trees on the outward journey and a chance to pause and see the three Scots pines in the ground on the return. See more on our news pages.
We are excited that the location that inspired the ‘100 Acre Wood’ in AA Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh was named as one of a national network of ancient woodlands chosen to celebrate The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The iconic spot on the Buckhurst Estate in East Sussex, owned by the 11th Earl De La Warr, was revealed by HRH The Prince of Wales as one of an ‘ancient canopy’ of 70 woods and 70 trees celebrating Her Majesty’s 70 years of service. Read more and see photos on our news page.
East Sussex also has one of the 70 ‘ancient canopy’ trees, the remaining Preston Twin Elm in Preston Park, Brighton & Hove, one of the largest and oldest English elms in the world.
The main launch for the Queen’s Green Canopy in East Sussex was at the Heathfield Agricultural Show in May 2022 where we had a fantastic day meeting lots of people keen to plant trees for the Jubilee year, and a commemorative tree was planted on the showground itself!
We’re keen for everyone to get involved in planting a commemorative tree, whether in your own garden or as part of a community group, a parish council, a church, a school, a charity or a business. Trees need to be carefully chosen for the place where they will be planted and there needs to be a plan to care for them for the first few years of their life.
Most gardens can accommodate a tree and there are plenty of options for smaller spaces, whether decorative or fruiting. If you don’t have a garden or would like to plant a tree elsewhere, you will need to obtain the landowner’s permission and make sure the site is suitable for tree planting. Inappropriate planting can cause ecological damage, so seek advice if that might be an issue.
Some trees are generalists and can thrive almost anywhere but others may have specific requirements eg soil type, how wet or dry the ground is, exposure. Make sure you choose a tree that will grow happily in your local conditions. Usually those native trees growing naturally in your local landscape are the species that will thrive in those conditions and provide the greatest benefit to wildlife.
Please record any trees you plant on the national Queen’s Green Canopy map. Be part of this national initiative and see what we’re achieving together.
Where to buy trees in Sussex
These are some local suppliers but it doesn’t necessarily mean all their trees are grown locally or with local seeds:
https://www.ewburrownursery.co.uk/ (English Woodlands, near Heathfield)
http://www.specialbranchtrees.org.uk/ Small scale project using locally-sourced seed and grown at Stanmer Park, Brighton.
The Woodland Trust also supplies trees (some for free to schools and community groups and some large scale plantings): Plant a Tree for the Jubilee – Woodland Trust
If you are looking to plant within the South Downs National Park, the Trees for the Downs – South Downs (southdownstrust.org.uk) scheme may be helpful. They can offer free trees and there is useful information within their ‘Expression of interest’ guidance, including at the end a chart of suitable trees for different local soil types and landscapes.
Sources of further information
For further advice on tree planting and the Queen’s Green Canopy visit the national website here The Queen’s Green Canopy (queensgreencanopy.org).
If you’re part of a school or community group have you thought of planting an orchard as part of the Queen’s Green Canopy Jubilee tree planting initiative? Brighton Permaculture Trust has over ten years’ experience of helping people to plant and maintain orchards and can provide a package of support to schools and community groups with the whole process of planning, planting and maintaining a new orchard – which can be small or big! Our work with orchards and fruit – Brighton Permaculture Trust
To mark your tree planting with a commemorative plaque you can buy them here: Queens Green Canopy | RBLI and here: Commemorative Plaques – The Queen’s Green Canopy (queensgreencanopy.org)
There is a useful Woodland Trust guide to trees through the seasons here: twigged.pdf (woodlandtrust.org.uk)
For information on the East Sussex Lieutenancy see here: HM The Late Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee 2022 – Lord Lieutenant of East Sussex (east-sussex-lieutenancy.org.uk)
If you’re in Brighton & Hove there is a great project supporting communities to plant trees in the city here: Plant Your Postcode
For information on the Queen’s Green Canopy in West Sussex see here: The Queen’s Green Canopy | WS Lieutenancy 22 (westsussexlieutenancy.org.uk)
You can reach Mark Whitaker, Project Administrator for the Queen’s Green Canopy East Sussex at firstname.lastname@example.org
The QGC East Sussex Planning Group kindly supports this initiative with advice, ideas and action, planting trees on their own land. The group comprises The Marquess of Abergavenny DL, David Allam DL, Deborah Bedford JP DL, Major General John Moore-Bick CBE DL, Tim Cobb DL, Carola Godman Irvine DL, Kathy Gore OBE DL, Lord Lucas, Graham Peters DL, Michael Rudman DL, Vice Lord-Lieutenant Sara Stonor and Harry Wills MRICS.