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NEWS RELEASE No: 1657529 MARCH 2016

Storm Katie causes damage amongst Bedgebury National Pinetum conifer collection

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Photo 8 Abies grandis - Bedgebury seed collecting - Pacific northwest coast 2015

Following the departure of Storm Katie on late on Monday morning, site inspections have revealed damage to several trees across Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, near Goudhurst, Kent.

Most significantly, the “Old Man of Kent”, a grand silver fir, Abies grandis which at nearly 50 metres is well known as Kent’s tallest tree, suffered when one of its three top branches was snapped out during the high winds. Closer inspection of the fallen branch has revealed that it is diseased, and sadly, following further checks, a decision may have to be made to remove the remainder of the tree from the collection.

Fortunately, a Bedgebury led team of conservation experts travelled to the Pacific Northwest coast of America on a collaborative seed-collecting expedition in 2015, which enabled them to bring back wild collected seed of Abies grandis. Once propagated, these seedlings could one day be used to replace the aging “Old Man of Kent” when it eventually comes to the end of its natural life.

Patrick West, Bedgebury Manager, said,

“The damage to trees following storms like Katie just goes to reinforce why the work that we carry out here at Bedgebury is so important for the international conservation of conifers.”

Other notable trees that were damaged in the collection included Calocedrus, common name incense cedar, and Fitzroya cupressoides, named after Captain FitzRoy of Darwin’s HMS Beagle, which is listed as endangered in the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature) red list of threatened species.

Both of these trees formed part of the original collection dating back to the 1920’s when the National Pinetum was first formed by the Forestry Commission and Kew Gardens.

In the wider forest, which had to remain closed until the winds eased off, the Bedgebury team were out early to survey the damage. They located and cleared a way through two large Leyland cypress trees that had fallen blocking one of the forest trails, along with many fallen branches which caused the temporary closure of six sections of the single track mountain bike trails. Fallen chestnut also caused problems around the Go Ape tree top adventure course, and further surveys are likely to reveal disturbed roots which may result in the need to remove other trees, or early coppicing.

Patrick West, Bedgebury Manager, said,

“The enjoyment of our visitors is very important to us, but our first concern is always their safety, so following the storm our team worked very hard to check, clear and re-open the site as soon as was physically possible. “

Bedgebury is cared for by the Forestry Commission for people, wildlife and trees.

Notes to Editor

1. Open all year Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest is home to the National Conifer Collection. The 128-hectare (320-acre) site is recognised as one of the most complete collections of conifer trees and plants on one site anywhere in the world, containing more than 12,000 trees, including rare, endangered and historically important specimens. Staff travel the world to collect seeds from rare and endangered species for propagation, and are supported in this work by the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum. It is a key partner in Fauna & Flora International’s Global Trees Campaign, and makes a major contribution to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation co-ordinated by Botanic Gardens Conservation International. It does this by collecting endangered seeds from all over the world to bring back to Bedgebury for propagation.

More than 2000 tree and shrub seedlings are grown at Bedgebury every year, some of which are planted on site. Surplus seedlings and plants are distributed to other botanic gardens and safe sites across the UK and Europe, and it provides seed to the Millennium Seed Bank. Bedgebury works to conserve species identified in the UK Red Data Book as in need of particular conservation effort.

The Pinetum also offers a beautiful setting for peaceful walks and picnics, whether wrapping up on a cold frosty morning, or enjoying a beautiful day of sunshine, and seasonal trails explaining more about the Pinetum can be followed throughout the year.

Bedgebury Forest covers around 800 hectares (2000 acres) of forest and offers facilities for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy activities such as adventure play, walking, cycling, mountain-biking, running, and horse riding; and it has a Go Ape high-ropes adventure trail. Seasonal events are also offered throughout the year.

The Bedgebury Visitor Centre serves both the National Pinetum and Forest. Recently refurbished it now includes a stunning Atrium containing beautiful interpretation relating to Bedgebury’s conservation work, and the Bedgebury Cafe provides a full range of hot and cold refreshments and features new improved catering facilities. There is also a cycle hire shop (including adapted cycles and a bike wash area), a visitor information centre and a classroom/community room, toilets and showers.

Information about Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest is available from, and by phone to 01580 879820, or by email to

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England 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 Bedgebury Pinetum is a charity that supports the Forestry Commission in its management of Bedgebury as a world-class centre of conifer research, conservation and education, as a landscape of rare and endangered flora and fauna, and as a site for high quality, healthy recreation. It is funded by membership subscriptions, sponsorship activities and donations.
For more information about the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum visit , contact 01580 879842 or e-mail

Media Contact:

Sandra Styles, Bedgebury Marketing and Events, or 0300 067 4475.