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Caring for our collection

9 December 2014

The ground works have begun on what will become the new Wolfson Tree Management Centre at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum.

An important development in the history of the arboretum, the Wolfson Tree Management Centre will greatly improve the way the Forestry Commission look after this internationally important tree collection.  The new centre will also explain to visitors how the arboretum’s trees are cared for in a changing climate.

The first building to be constructed will be made out of wood primarily sourced from the arboretum through routine tree maintenance. Twenty metre lengths of pine have been milled and hand- hewn by a team of twelve carpenters on-site to make the square beams that will form the main roof trusses, part of the timber frame. It is believed wood of this length has not been used in the ancient craft of hewing for over 300 years.

The new facility will provide all that Westonbirt’s expert tree team needs to manage the tree collection, including secure undercover storage for machinery and tools, a yard area over four times the size of the current space, a new environmentally friendly vehicle wash down facility and a warm indoor space for the tree team to use.

It’s a huge step forward for the arboretum which will mean the tree team can work more efficiently and spend more time working out in the arboretum.

Alongside the Tree Management Centre will be an area of interpretation where visitors can learn about the arboriculture and tools involved in caring for the arboretum.

Simon Toomer, the Forestry Commission’s Director of Westonbirt Arboretum commented:

“We are really excited to be starting Phase Two of the Westonbirt Project. The Wolfson Tree Management Centre is a forward thinking venture which will make a real difference to the work of our tree team and give them the facilities they need to care for the national arboretum”

It’s also great to have the opportunity to share what our expert team do and give visitors the chance to learn more about the challenges involved in managing a tree collection of this size and age.”

The Wolfson Tree Management Centre has been made possible thanks to a grant from The Wolfson Foundation.

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of The Wolfson Foundation added:

“We are pleased to be associated with the Tree Management Centre – a very practical centre, sensitively set within the historic arboretum, but also an enterprising way of bringing to life the care and attention that trees require. It represents an imaginative approach to science communication, while also enhancing the leisure experience of the visitor.”

The construction work is expected to last around eleven months, with completion in autumn 2015.

The Wolfson Tree Management Centre is one half of the ambitious second phase of the Westonbirt Project, a partnership between the Forestry Commission and the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, which also includes the Treetop Walkway.

The walkway will allow visitors to experience the tree collection up close at over 12 metres above the ground. Visitors will weave in and out of the trees and experience soaring views across the historic landscape. It will also provide a fun and hands-on way for all our visitors to learn about how trees live.

More information on the Westonbirt Project can be found at

- ENDS -


For press information and images, contact Communications Manager, Emily Pryor on or 01666 881 207.

Notes to Editors

The national arboretum is situated at Westonbirt, three miles from Tetbury in Gloucestershire.

The national arboretum is open from 9am Monday to Sunday all year round except Christmas Day.

Information on admission and events can be found at

1. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to five national collections, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains nearly 15,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 27,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Visit

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment.  Further information can be found at

3. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985 by a small group of volunteers. Today it raises money to help protect and preserve the arboretum, enhance public enjoyment and knowledge of this world renowned tree collection and secure its sustainable future. The charity raises funds through a membership scheme with over 27,000 Friends, fundraising activities and the hire of the Great Oak Hall.  The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a registered charity (no. 293190). More information at  

4. The Westonbirt Project will make a big difference to everybody who comes to the arboretum. The project will mean a better welcome, a better visit and a better understanding of the heritage and importance of this world class tree collection. More information can be found at

5. The Wolfson Foundation ( is a charity that was established in 1955.The Wolfson Foundation supports and promotes excellence in the fields of science and medicine, health & disability, education and the arts & humanities. All funding is based on expert peer review. Over £780 million (£1.2 billion in real terms) has been awarded in grants to some 10,000 projects over the last 59 years.

Last updated: 8th August 2016

England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission.