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Communities in Nature: Hidden Voices project

The Hidden Voices project at Westonbirt Arboretum formed part of the national Communities in Nature initiative in 2012.

Communities in Nature celebration day, Westonbirt Arboretum education centre, Paul GroomThe project was co-ordinated by Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) and funded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and aimed to introduce new and under-represented groups to botanic gardens.

The Stroud Macular Group, Bristol Drugs Project and Asian women’s group Awaz Utaoh took part in the project led by the learning and participation team at Westonbirt Arboretum.

Westonbirt Arboretum was one of four UK botanic gardens involved in the Communities in Nature initiative, which was inspired by a report into the social role and relevance of UK botanic gardens conducted by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries at the University of Leicester.

The report recommended that botanic gardens work together to reconsider their roles, responsibilities and mission in a world of pressing environmental change.

Activities with lasting impact

Workshops held across summer 2012 included woodland coppicing, learning how foods originate from plants and exploring trees using different senses.

Audio trail

Communities in Nature project yellow tree labels for partially sighted visitorsAs a result of the project, Westonbirt Arboretum has a series of new tree labels and an audio trail for blind and partially sighted people.

The tree labels use a yellow background with descriptions written in a large, black font. The downloadable audio trail has been created using sensory descriptions of trees. Both of these have been developed in partnership with the Stroud Macular Group.

Tree inspired recipes

Recipes using tree and plant foods developed by Awaz Utaoh were collated into a recipe booklet .


Photographs taken by members of the Bristol Drugs Project conveying the emotional impact of trees and woodlands were present in the photo exhibition, 'A different perspective', shown to our visitors last autumn.

Last updated: 10th July 2017

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