Role for north Scotland sites in national arboretum explored

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Further steps towards establishing the National Tree Collections Scotland (NTCS) as Scotland’s national arboretum were taken recently when managers of potential NTCS north-Scotland sites joined a one day seminar to learn more about the project.

As a voluntary ‘club’ of willing participants, the NTCS members will share expertise and resources to conserve the collections and secure their long-term future. Each of the sites will also be accessible to the public.

The NTCS is a partnership project, led by Forestry Commission Scotland and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh,

Project Officer, Tom Christian, said:

“Scotland‘s expertise and tradition in horticulture, science and forestry has led to our having some of the finest tree collections in Europe. The collections - at sites around Scotland - are taking on new conservation significance, serving as safe-havens for many species that are under threat in their own natural environments.

“This safeguards against the threat of extinction and helps maintain the value of collections in the UK and Ireland in general.

“But the NTCS also raises awareness of Scotland’s world-leading role in tree conservation and highlights the rich history of Scottish plant collectors, whose legacy shapes modern forestry and its significant contribution to the country’s rural economy.

“The emphasis is very much on being inclusive, so I would encourage anyone with a tree collection of interest to get in touch and discuss how they might participate in the project.”

The National Tree Collections Scotland inaugural sites are:
• Benmore Botanic Garden, Argyll
• Dawyck Botanic Garden, near Peebles
• Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
• Kilmun Aboretum, Argyll
• Scone Palace Pinetum, near Perth.

A number of other locations across Scotland have been identified, and who have already indicated their willingness to get involved. The next steps will be to engage them in the initiative.

A new website has been created to help promote the NTCS. For further information and contact details visit

NOTES to Editors:
1) Attendees included representatives from Cairngorms National Park Authority; Royal Scottish Forestry Society; Scottish Forestry Trust; Highland, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Councils;, Corrour, Brahan, Fairburn, Haddo, Hatton and Seafield Estates, , Woodland Trust Scotland, Scottish Land & Estates; and National Trust for Scotland.

2) The NTCS was launched at Scone Palace on Saturday (18 June) by Environment & Climate Change Minister, Stewart Stevenson.

3) Forestry Commission Scotland serves as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate and manages the 660,000 hectare national forest estate, protecting, managing and expanding Scotland’s forests and woodlands in a ways that deliver benefits to Scotland’s people, communities, biodiversity and economy.

4) The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is one of the world’s leading research botanic gardens. It’s National Heritage Collections include over 3 million preserved plant specimens, library and archive collections dating back to the 15th century, and one of the best-documented Living Collections of plants in the world with over 15,000 species cultivated in its four gardens, all of which underpins world leading scientific, horticultural and educational programmes in Scotland and in over 80 countries worldwide.

5) Tree collections were first established in Scotland over 200 years ago by the ‘planting lairds’ at locations including Inveraray, Blair Atholl, Scone, Crathes, Dawyck, Drumlanrig, and Hopetoun. The quality of these and other listed Historic Gardens and Designed Landscapes, amongst the finest in the land, owes much to these trees and policies.

Scottish plant hunters such as David Douglas later introduced trees from the spectacular forests of the Pacific Northwest of North America, including Sitka spruce, Douglas fir and giant redwood. Later 19th century introductions arrived form Australia (eucalyptus), all parts of the Americas (southern beech and various conifers), China and the Far East (Japanese cedar and Japanese larch) and further collections were established at places such as Crarae and Benmore in Argyll as well as in public parks and gardens including the RBG at Inverleith in Edinburgh and the Glasgow Botanic Gardens.

The Commission set up its own trials and experiments and the Kilmun Arboretum near Dunoon, set up in 1930, now has one of the most important forest garden collections in Europe because of the range and variety of trees grown in stands and the extensive period of observation and trial.

6). The International Conifer Conservation Programme 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.