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A future with broadleaved trees

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Acorn and oak leaf

Launching a strategy for the improvement of broadleaved trees in Britain and Ireland

The nations’ broadleaved trees such as oak, chestnut, ash and birch are admired for their beauty – but they are economically, socially and environmentally important too. Now Future Trees Trust, Earth Trust and Forest Research, the research agency of the Forest Commission have come together to ‘improve’ Britain’s and Ireland’s broadleaved trees. By using genetic diversity we can ensure that seeds and trees in the future have a broad genetic base which could aid their resilience to pests, diseases and changing climate as well as producing higher timber yields.

The strategy, ‘A future with broadleaved trees’ sets out the case for the wider use of improved broadleaved trees so that they will remain part of urban and rural landscapes for generations to come. It calls on all those who are involved with or who benefit from these trees - from local and national government and those who own or manage woodland – to charities, NGOs and academic institutions to support three key objectives that will ensure that the woodlands of the future are productive, healthy and resilient.

The objectives are:

  • Improving broadleaved trees through research
  • Raising awareness of the benefits of using improved broadleaved trees
  • Encourage planting improved broadleaved trees by establishing a strong policy framework

Lord De Mauley, Parliamentary Under Secretary at DEFRA will launch the strategy today (Wednesday 9 October) at the House of Commons. The strategy is also supported by the forestry services of Northern Ireland and the Irish republic.

Tim Rowland, development officer for Future Trees Trust said:

“We currently import about 95% of the hardwood timber we use because the quantity and quality of the timber from our broadleaved trees means we can’t compete with foreign imports. Using improved trees can change that and increase our trees’ resilience to diseases at the same time. ”

Jayne Manley, CEO of Earth Trust said:

“Our much loved broadleaved trees could provide significant benefits to people and the environment as well as the rural economy. We need to focus on these trees rather than take them for granted and part of this is identifying and planting ‘improved’ trees which are productive, healthy and adaptable”.

Forest Research’s Chief Executive, Dr James Pendlebury stressed the need for prompt action:

“Just as animals and crops have always been bred to enhance desirable traits, the same thing can be done with trees. But it takes a lot longer to achieve results so we need to act now if we want to secure the future of our broadleaf tree populations”.

Notes for Editors

  1. Media enquiries
    Dianne Stilwell, Forest Research (, 01420 526236)
    Kirsty Warren, Earth Trust (, 01865 409406)
    During the embargo period, electronic copies of the strategy document are available from Dianne or Kirsty.

  2. Pictures are available

  3. Interview and guided tour opportunities available: with Dr Jo Clark, Forestry Research Manager, (population genetics and tree breeding specialist), at Earth Trust’s national research woodland, Paradise Wood.

  4. ‘A Future with Broadleaved Trees’ is published on Wednesday 9 October 2013. Copies are available from Tim Rowland at Future Trees Trust ( Pdf copies will be available when the embargo lifts at  and on the three partner websites: Future Trees Trust, Earth Trust and Forest Research.

  5. Earth Trust
    The Earth Trust is a registered charity (Reg. Charity No. 1095057)
    For more information on our aims, objectives and events visit

  6. Future Trees Trust
    Future Trees Trust is a registered charity (Reg. Charity No. 1103202)
    For more information on our work visit

  7. Forest Research
    Forest Research is an agency of the Forestry Commission and is one of the world's leading centres of research into woodlands and forestry. For more information, please visit