Stock photo: PA
The National Trust is launching a £1.2m appeal to purchase and safeguard part of the white cliffs of Dover.
The move is backed by Dame Vera Lynn whose wartime song The White Cliffs of Dover gained nationwide fame for the area.
The trust wants to buy the mile-long stretch of the cliff to the east of Dover, currently privately owned, to prevent building, conserve nature, and ensure a public right of way.
Purchasing this stretch of coast would fill in the gap between two segments already owned by the National Trust, creating a five-mile (8km) reserve with guaranteed rambling rights and nature protection.
Brian Whittaker, acting property manager for the white cliffs, told the BBC: "We own pockets of land either side; but it's a gap in the middle, and from a wildlife point of view you have a gap where you go into farmland and there's not much we can do for wildlife or for people.
Birds like kittiwakes and fulmars nest on the cliff, while peregrine falcons fly above, while the Adonis blue butterfly has a particular liking for the chalk.
The cliffs also mark the UK's closest point to France, as well as being the spot where troops defended against the Romans, and many Dunkirk evacuees landed on the local beaches.
Fiona Reynolds, the trust's director-general, told the BBC: "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."
A Radio Times poll once voted the white cliffs as the UK's third best 'natural wonder'. See more natural wonders in Britain here:
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