Guidance aims to help save Scotland’s designed landscapes

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Environment & Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson, today visited Dunkeld’s storm damaged Cathedral Grove to see how recently published guidance from Forestry Commission Scotland can help restore this designed landscape.

Sited on the Hilton Dunkeld House Estate, the 2 acre Cathedral Grove – which included many veteran trees – was badly hit during the storms of 8th-9th December. As well as losing several mature and veteran trees, the grove was further damaged by falling tree tops that had been snapped off in the wind.

Mr Stevenson said:

“Changing demands on landscape, increasing threat from pests and diseases and, of course, the impact of climate change and extreme weather events will all impact upon Scotland’s historic and much loved designed landscapes.

“The damage here, at one of Perthshire’s best known heritage landscape sites, is very sad to see. This is an important tourist site but the Grove is also an important part of Scotland’s involvement in the world-wide iCONic project and to the developing National Tree Collections of Scotland.

“With many standing trees no longer worth keeping and some of the damaged trees presenting significant safety concerns, re-planting a new generation of trees and rescuing the grove will be a formidable task.

“I am sure that the Commission’s recently published guidance will be a valuable source of advice and assistance over the coming months as work that will eventually return the grove to its former glory progresses.”

As well as helping with the planning of restoration, replanting and conservation management projects, the guidance also sets out to:

• Aid understanding of what comprises an historic designed landscape
• Outline the components of designed landscapes, in particular their tree features, their design principles and common management issues.
• Offer a handy one-page guide to SRDP grant support
• Provide background information and links to further sources of information

The guidance will be of use to anyone responsible for managing these sites. For more information visit

Nicholas Shepherd,
Landscape & Culture Advisor with Forestry Commission Scotland, said:

“Designed landscapes are a significant asset for Scotland and it is often the trees - the result of careful species selection and deliberate planting over many centuries and at different scales - that shape and give the landscape its special qualities. They have artistic, historical and horticultural value, architectural, scenic, archaeological, recreational, educational and now also a climatic value!

“It’s vitally important that we do what we can to conserve the nature of these sites, while also allowing them to adapt and change to meet the set of modern challenges.”

Mike Metcalfe, general manager at Hilton Dunkeld House, said:

“The estate of Hilton Dunkeld House plays host to many wonderful examples of remarkable trees including the famous Dunkeld Pedestal Larch, the Parent Larch and the newly introduced Giant Redwoods.

“The recent storms proved to make quite a dent on our existing landscape and we are working with Forestry Commission Scotland to restore and replant in order to preserve for future generations.” 


Notes to Editors:
1) Forestry Commission Scotland works as part of the Scottish Government’s Environment & Forestry Directorate

2) The term ‘designed landscape’ describes the ornamental grounds of country houses and institutions, public parks and similar sites. Laid out for aesthetic effect, they generally include elements of landforming, building, water management and planting, and they incorporate the natural landscape for pleasure, agriculture and forestry purposes.

3) Development of the guidance has benefited from contributions from Archaeology Scotland, Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, Garden History Society, Historic Scotland, National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Borders Council, Scottish Natural Heritage and Woodland Trust Scotland.

4) The International Conifer Conservation Programme (iCONic) is based at the RBGE and was set up in 1991 to help conserve threatened conifer species and their habitats across the globe, through an integrated programme of taxonomic, conservation, genetic and horticultural research.  Around half of the world’s 650-odd conifer species can be grown in Scotland. ICCP staff already work closely with many landowners across Scotland to help establish new collections of threatened conifers including the iCONic Project in Perthshire’s Big Tree Country.

5) The National Tree Collections Scotland is a partnership project, led by Forestry Commission Scotland and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. It aims to involve tree collections at sites around the country in a national arboretum for Scotland, raising awareness of Scotland’s world-leading role in tree conservation. It also aims to highlight the rich history of Scottish plant collectors, whose legacy shapes modern forestry - and its significant contribution to Scotland’s rural economy.

6)  Notaichean
Tha FCS ag obair mar bhuidheann-stiùiridh coilltearachd Riaghaltas na h-Alba agus a' riaghladh nan 660,000 heactairean ann an Oighreachd na Coille Nàiseanta, a' dìonadh, a' cumail smachd air agus a' leudachadh nan coilltean gus buannachdan a thoirt dha coimhearsnachdan, an eaconamaidh agus, ag obair an aghaidh atharrachadh gnàth-shìde.
Airson agallamhan anns a' Ghàidhlig, cuiribh fios gu Oifigear Leasachaidh Gàidhlig a' Choimisean, Louise NicBheathain air 01463 725 038.

7. Media enquiries to Paul Munro, Forestry Commission Scotland press office 0131 314 6507.