The Wey & Arun Canal Trust is to plant hundreds of trees this November thanks to a project with the Woodland Trust.

The Trust will receive 420 trees as part of a Woodland Trust initiative involving communities and schools across the UK. Trees will be planted along the canal in the Loxwood stretch, replacing those lost to ash dieback.

The Woodland Trust estimates that ash dieback will kill up to 95% of ash trees across the UK. Ash dieback (Hymenoscyphus fraxineus) is a fungus which originated in Asia and attacks European ash, with fungus spores penetrating the tree's leaves. The fungus then grows inside the tree, eventually blocking its water transport systems, causing it to die. The tree can fight back, but year-on-year infections will eventually kill it. The south-east has been particularly badly hit by the disease and last October a Waterway Recovery Group Forestry team spent a week removing dead and diseased trees along the canal. The trained tree climbers and cutting experts used a specialist cherry picker to fell dead trees and make safe those trees posing a danger.

One of the ways the Woodland Trust is aiming to combat the effects of ash dieback is by increasing the genetic diversity of trees in existing woods and using a mix of native tree species when planting. 

The Trust will receive four different packs of 105 saplings:

To encourage wildlife: hawthorn, rowan, blackthorn, silver birch, hazel, common oak

Offer year-round colour: hawthorn, dogwood, wild cherry, silver birch, rowan, hazel

Create a wild wood: hazel, crab apple, downy birch, hawthorn, holly, goat willow

Create a wild harvest: hazel, blackthorn, crab apple, dog rose, elder, rowan


Wey & Arun Canal Trust chairman Sally Schupke said: "Planting trees along the canal has huge benefits, not only is it crucial to wildlife, but it also helps combat soil erosion and flooding, so we are especially pleased to be chosen to take part in the Woodland Trust's scheme. We look forward to the autumn when the trees arrive and our volunteers can get planting."