LONDON – (AFP) – Britain’s leading conservation charity launched an appeal on Wednesday to buy a stretch of the White Cliffs of Dover, one of England’s most recognisable natural landmarks.
In its largest ever fundraising operation for a length of coastline, the National Trust needs to raise £1.2 million ($1.9 million, 1.5 million euros) to buy a stretch of the cliffs less than one mile (1.6 kilometres) long and safeguard the future of the famous landscape.
The charity wants to improve public access to the chalk cliffs on the southeast coast of England and boost the habitat for wildlife.
The cliffs are often the first sight for visitors arriving in England by sea, and have a strong link to World War II as many of the British forces rescued from Dunkirk landed at the foot of the landmark.
They have featured in poetry and songs, most famously the World War II classic “(There’ll be bluebirds over) the White Cliffs of Dover”, sung by Vera Lynn.
Fiona Reynolds, director general of the National Trust, said: “Immortalised in song and literature, the White Cliffs of Dover have become one of the great symbols of our nation.
“We now have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure their future for everyone to enjoy.
“If we don’t raise the money then the future of the White Cliffs is uncertain and this stretch of coastline might one day be disrupted by inappropriate management or development.”
The purchase would fill in the missing link in a stretch of coast almost five miles (eight kilometres) long owned by the National Trust on behalf of the nation, from its visitor centre above Dover port to South Foreland lighthouse.
Hundreds of thousands of people visit the cliffs each year.