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NEWS RELEASE No: 1594416 MAY 2013

New role to develop plant expertise at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

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Dendrologist Dan Crowley at Westonbirt

A new role has been created at the Forestry Commission’s National Arboretum at Westonbirt to help develop and share expert plant knowledge.

The National Arboretum’s new dendrologist, Dan Crowley, will support the mapping, archiving, identification and verification of plants in the 16,000 specimen tree collection.

Using the arboretum’s network of contacts, including Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Ness Botanic Gardens, Dan will also exchange information with other plant specialists to help raise the profile of Westonbirt’s expertise.

Dan commented:

“Developing and enhancing the arboretum’s plant identification and verification knowledge will be of great benefit to the arboretum.

“It will improve the level of curation, which will offer many benefits to Westonbirt as a place to connect with and learn about trees and plants.”

Curator at Westonbirt Arboretum, Mark Ballard, commented:

“The National Arboretum has a responsibility to be a leader in tree and plant information. This new position will help us to become a more developed reference point for this expertise.”

Work will start with investigating the arboretum’s trees that are currently only identified to genus level; using comparable plant material and working with partners to develop a more detailed identification.

The arboretum hopes that the role, initially a six month post, can be extended to become a long term addition to Westonbirt’s tree team.

Dan will be recording his progress through the new Westonbirt Dendrologist’s Blog. Visit to find out more.


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 16,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 28,000. 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. The charity’s objects are to support The National Arboretum in promoting public understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and society. It is funded by membership receipts from over 28,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. 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


Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, on 01666 881 207 or email: