The National Arboreta – Bedgebury National Pinetum & Westonbirt National Arboretum
Mission – To connect People with Trees to improve the Quality of Life
Bedgebury and Westonbirt are two of the UK’s premier tree collections. Between the sites we look after over 26,000 individual specimens all of which have their own database record. The information in these records makes the difference between the Arboreta being serious scientific establishments or pretty sites with ‘green wallpaper’. The collections are managed to the standards in the Darwin Technical Manual for Botanic Gardens. In addition we adhere to the International Convention on Biological Diversity and the resulting Global Strategy for Plant Conservation (GSPC). The GSPC has 16 targets many of which the Arboreta can assist in delivering. Key in these is species assessment, ex-situ conservation, education and training and networking and knowledge transfer. All of this means the Arboreta are regularly operating on an international stage and assisting in delivering wider government objectives
To have the world's most complete conifer collection
There are approximately 810 conifer species and varieties in the World. Of this number we can grow in the temperate UK conditions about 610. The aim is to have a minimum of seven specimens from a range of provenance’s for each species. We will also grow a small number of tropical species for display and to demonstrate the incredible diversity and character of conifers. The collection will comprise 70% conifers, with the remaining 30% being geographically associated plants and trees to provide context and enhance the visual landscape of the site.
A safe site for conserving ‘globally’ threatened species
Approximately 50% of conifer species are threatened with 25% on the endangered list. At this time Bedgebury has examples of 91 threatened species on site. Working with Edinburgh Botanic Gardens, International Conifer Conservation Program (ICCP) we provide a safe site for over 1000 trees as ex-situ conservation plantings. In addition there are c500 trees on other FC sites. Each species is represented by up to 50 plants but a wider project taking in the old Forest Plots will involve planting up to 500 trees of particularly rare species. To back this up Bedgebury staff are closely involved with wider conservation assessments as part of our role in the IUCN Conifer Specialist Group. A project looking at 42 species growing in China. This is in partnership with Fauna & Flora International (FFI) and Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI), and joint field collecting with Wakehurst Place and the Millennium Seed Bank, the focus being tree species where additional skills such as climbing are required. Bedgebury is fast becoming a leader in the world of conifer conservation
Continuing our traditional partnership with Forest Research
The Pinetum was originally run by Forest Research as a site to trial species as well as a botanical collection focusing on conifers. The Forest Plots at the rear of the site were part of a UK network to silviculturally assess conifer and broadleaf tree species for production forestry in the UK. More recently the site has been managed by the FC. After the gales in 1987 much of the collection was windblown and the original focus lost. Now FR and FC are again working closely together on our conservation work, specialist germination of rare species assessing and managing the botanical collection to the highest Curatorial standards. Future work will include assessing alternative species to Pinus nigra in light of the current issues with Red Band Needle Blight; phenology plots linked into environmental changes; species choice linked to current climate change predictions and assessing temperature ranges across the site using sensors to aid with positioning less hardy trees.
A horticultural showcase for conifers
Bedgebury hosts five national collections under the National Council for the Conservation of Plants and Gardens (NCCPG) - Yew, Thuya, Juniper, Leyland Cypress & Lawson Cypress. The focus for these is garden cultivars but also includes species. These collections give people the opportunity to see specimens before they may decide to grow one themselves. If only people had looked at Leyland Cypress early on! We also try out new species and cultivars and report back to the wider horticultural world.