Lewes Urban Arboretum Project


iTree Survey

In the autumn of 2014, in collaboration with Plumpton Agricultural College and the Lewes and Ouse Valley Eco-nomics group, we conducted what’s known as an iTree survey across the town. Teams visited over 200 sites randomly placed across the town, gathering information on land use, ground cover, trees present (height, trunk diameter, canopy spread etc) and other details. We shall soon be entering and processing this data in iTree, which will yield a mass of data about the town’s tree population: numbers, age profiles and sizes by species; total biomass; carbon sequestration, pollution removal and water retention measures, and ecosystem services values. This information will help us to: formulate a long-term management plan for the town’s trees; advocate and justify plantings; create educational resources; drive the town’s engagement with its trees, and influence longer-term, broader planting in the town through the developing Lewes Neighbourhood Plan.

Tree survey graphic

Schools Competition 

To encourage all Lewes children, and their families, to become more aware of the Lewes Urban Arboretum Project, all primary-aged pupils at Lewes schools were invited to enter the Friends of Lewes Tree Competition during June and July 2014.

To take part in the competition, children were asked to create a picture, painting, poem, explanation or poster on the subject of: “I think trees are important to Lewes because……”. The prizes are a £10 Book Token for the winning pupil and a £50 Book Token and ten trees for the winning school. More competition details and entry forms were available from the participating schools or from below.

London Plane at Southover School, Lewes

London Plane at Southover School, Lewes

The results were announced on 5 September: Lily Taylor-Martin, age 9, of Lewes Old Grammar School Junior Department won first prize, and the runner-up was Liam Barbieri, age 6, of Southover School.

Their entries can be seen on the Tree Poster Competition page.

All the children’s responses are celebrated on our Facebook page, and via Flickr.



We now have a Facebook Page, where you can follow our activities.


Lewes Urban Arboretum update

Some time ago the Friends of Lewes received a bequest to fund the planting of trees in Lewes. This encouraged the late Paul Millmore to conceive the idea of creating a Lewes urban, or town-wide, arboretum consisting of existing tree stock in the town along with additional plantings, integrated by means of a walking guide and narrative and perhaps other, interactive, interpretive materials. We’re now making good progress with this project, known as the Lewes Urban Arboretum, and you can read more about our vision below.

Initially we successfully sought a partial grant from the South Downs National Park Authority to help fund a tree survey to document the existing significant stock in the town and to recommend potential planting sites and species. This survey, conducted by David Saunders, MICFor, was completed in late 2012: a Google Map of significant trees is below, and the survey report is available.

Since the initial survey was completed, we’ve:

  • Formed a Trees Committee, which meets monthly and is has in its membership several local professional arboriculturalists who work in landscape design, tree surgery, woodland management, tree growing, and local government.
  • Planted four trees on the Malling Industrial estate. This planting will mature to soften views from the surrounding Downs.
  • Run a successful photography competition. The winners were George Cade (Juniors) and Paul McDonald (Adults)
  • Designed, and helped fund and carry out, the planting of a row of trees in the playing fields of Southover and Western Rd Schools.
  • Given a FoL lecture, “Time for Trees” about the project and existing trees in Lewes. This was delivered by David Saunders, who conducted the 2012 survey.
  • Given a talk to the Lewes Rotary Club on the trees of Lewes. This was presented by Peter Thurman, FArborA, MICFor.
  • Had a series of articles published in Sussex Express, such as “Why Lewes Must Treasure Trees”.
  • Received a second bequest, to fund tree maintenance and early years care, as well as a gift in memory of Paul Millmore from Brighton and Hove Friends of the Earth.
  • Arranged a Lewes tree walk, led by David Saunders, a committee member and forestry consultant.
  • Arranged very successful walks around Malling Deanery arboretum, in 2014 and 2015, both led by Hugh Morris, currently Lecturer in Tropical Ecology at the University of Ulm.
Row of trees planted at Southover School, Lewes

Row of trees planted at Southover School, Lewes


Trees can be conserved, but not preserved. Like all living things they grow, mature, age and die. They bring immense, often unappreciated and unrecognised, value to our lives. Our project vision is:

Lewes – An Arboretum Town

We aim to increase our local community’s awareness and appreciation of trees, and change the way we look at Lewes: not trees in the town, but rather a town in the trees.

Create an integrated, coherent resource from the town’s trees for educational, tourism and amenity purposes

We have a rich, diverse and interesting tree population (there are even some pomegranate trees), which can be curated into seasonal, commercial, medicinal and other groupings to make walks of educational value and tourist interest.

Continue previous generations’ farsighted and generous tradition of planting for the future

The mature trees you see around the town will not last forever, and continual planting is essential to maintain our treescape. We’re not planting today for ourselves: we’re planting for our children and grandchildren.

We hope to drive community engagement through volunteer planting, early years care and “adopt-a-tree”.

Restore our streetscapes

Mature trees are lost through age and disease – and sometimes deliberate felling – from our streets. Often they are not replaced at all, or smaller species are planted in their place. The loss to our urban and suburban is substantial, and we aim to drive a cultural change regarding tree provision and management in our town. See the London Tree Officers’ Association’s report on The Barriers and Drivers for Planting and Retaining Urban Trees, which lays out the case.

In a time of changing climate, increased tree cover on our streets will provide shade, cooling and ecosystem services of increasing value, as well as improved visual amenity and wellbeing.

Ensure that we plant species that will thrive in our changing climate

Many of our native and well-naturalised species (elm, oak, horse chestnut, and now ash) are falling victim to a succession of diseases introduced as global trade increases. Climate change also means that some of our native species may cease to thrive. Diversifying the town’s tree population will minimise the risk of catastrophic losses through disease, climate or other environmental changes.

Beech in the Lewes Priory grounds

Beech in the Lewes Priory grounds


We’ll be pursuing other objectives over time, and will continue to provide updates here.

If you have any comments, suggestions or questions, please contact us using this form: