22/10/2012 - Westonbirt Arboretum chosen for flagship funding scheme


A project to build a new Welcome Building and restore the Grade I Registered landscape at the Forestry Commission's National Arboretum at Westonbirt has been awarded a grant of 500,000.

The Westonbirt Project was named as Cultural Facilities Flagship Project for the Biffa Award 2012 scheme.

The grant will help fund educational areas of a new Welcome Building planned for 2013. The areas will share the history of the arboretum, showcase work taking place to research trees for the future and help direct visitors to must-see areas or events.

Over £2.8 million has now been raised towards the £3.6 million project. Fundraising is being led by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum; a registered charity which supports the Forestry Commission at The National Arboretum.

The Forestry Commission’s Director at Westonbirt Arboretum, Simon Toomer, commented:

“With this generous grant we are now one step closer to realising our dreams through the Westonbirt Project.

“When people currently arrive at Westonbirt they are greeted at a tiny admissions booth, with no real sense of direction or importance of the arboretum they are about to enter.

“The developments planned as part of the project will enable visitors to park, pay on foot through the new Welcome Building and find out all about the trees, history and what they can see before they venture off into the arboretum.”

Cath Hare, Biffa Award Acting Programme Manager commented:

“The Biffa Award Flagship Scheme presents a unique opportunity for truly inspirational projects to really boost their capacity and reach.

“We fund only two projects each year so competition is fierce. We look for regionally significant projects which aim to have a real and lasting impact on the wider community they serve, and which are either culturally pioneering or aiming to make significant progress for biodiversity.

“The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum have developed an outstanding project that ticks all the boxes and more. The new Welcome Building will help visitors to get the very best experience of this stunning and important cultural site.”

Construction of the new Welcome Building is planned for late 2013. The arboretum’s team aim to begin work on the new car park in January 2013.

The new car park is part of the Grade I Registered landscape restoration. Parking will be moved to an area not protected by English Heritage and the current car park will be returned to a landscape of rare grasses and wildflowers.

Moe information on the Westonbirt Project can be found at www.westonbirtproject.co.uk.


• Arboretum Director Simon Toomer; Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum Head of Fundraising, Louise Bird and Westonbirt Project Director, Miranda Winram collect a cheque for £250,000: the first instalment of the £500,000 from Biffa Awards 2012
• Visual of the new interpretation area of the Welcome Building.

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 www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt.

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 www.forestry.gov.uk.

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 www.fowa.org.uk  

4. A £3.6million fundraising campaign led by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is currently underway for the Westonbirt Project. Phase One of the project aims to improve the visitor arrival and experience by building a new Welcome Building, relocating the car park and restoring the Grade I Registered landscape. Work on Phase One is planned to start in 2013, subject to funds being raised. More information can be found at www.westonbirtproject.co.uk.

5. Since 1997, the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT) has been awarding grants to environmental and community projects under the fund name Biffa Award. The fund administers money donated by Biffa Group Ltd, a leading integrated waste management business.

6. Under the Landfill Tax Regulations 1996, landfill operators like Biffa Group Ltd are liable for taxes on waste deposited in landfill sites. The Landfill Communities Fund allows them to donate a small percentage of their tax liability to projects working to improve communities living within the vicinity of landfill sites. To date, Biffa Award has awarded grants totalling more than £125 million to hundreds of worthwhile projects. www.biffa-award.org


Katrina Podlewska, Communications Manager, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, on 01666 881 207 or email: katrina.podlewska@forestry.gsi.gov.uk

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