26 March 2013
The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program and The Morton Arboretum of Illinois, USA, are pleased to announce that Westonbirt, The National Arboretum has been awarded a Level IV Accreditation, the highest level achievable.
By achieving particular standards of professional practices deemed important for arboreta and botanic gardens, Westonbirt, which is managed by the Forestry Commission, is now recognized as an accredited arboretum in The Morton Register of Arboreta.
“Westonbirt, The National Arboretum and the Forestry Commission are really delighted to receive this prestigious accreditation as an endorsement of our work and confirmation of the world-class status of the arboretum,” says Simon Toomer, arboretum director. “Membership of ArbNet will allow us to cooperate even more closely with arboretums in America and around the world to enhance our work.”
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, is located in Gloucestershire, England, about a two hour drive west from London. The arboretum is a remarkable place for people to enjoy and learn about trees. Its combination of maturity, species diversity and landscape style make it one of the most extraordinary arboretums in the world with an iconic status in our tree and landscape heritage.
The tree collection itself contains around 16,000 catalogued trees and shrubs from 3,000 plant taxa. There are also five National Plant Collections including Japanese maples, for which the arboretum is so well known.
Westonbirt is a popular visitor attraction with around 400,000 visitors a year. It also supports a range of educational programs and learning activities, ranging from guided walks to web-based interpretation. Our work to raise public understanding of the environment issues relating to trees is perhaps the most significant contribution the arboretum makes to plant conservation.
Created in the 19th Century by Victorian entrepreneur Robert Holford, the 600 acre arboretum was planted during the period of unprecedented introduction and availability of new plants to UK growers. Laid out in a relatively short period, the treescape owes much to Holford’s regard for the landscape principles of William Sawrey Gilpin.
In 2001, Westonbirt was awarded the status of National Arboretum in England, emphasizing both the quality of the tree collection and the arboretum’s contribution to scientific research programs. The growing threats to trees and forests from climate change and pests and disease have prompted a reaffirmation of the arboretum’s value for understanding these threats and developing appropriate responses.
About the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program
The ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program is sponsored and coordinated by The Morton Arboretum in cooperation with American Public Gardens Association and Botanic Gardens Conservation International.
This international initiative offers four levels of accreditation, recognizing arboreta of various degrees of development, capacity and professionalism. Accreditation is based on self-assessment and documentation of an arboretum’s level of achievement of accreditation standards. Standards include planning, governance, labeling of species, staff or volunteer support, public access and programming and tree science, planting and conservation. More information is available at www.arbnet.org.