Archive for January, 2012

Experimenting on a grand scale, by Ben Oliver, Learning and Participation Manager

Monday, January 30th, 2012

Last week saw the start of an exciting new research project that aims to discover new forestry tree species for the future. Wander up to the Elm plots at the top end of Waste Drive and you’ll find contractors busy clearing the ground ready for the first saplings to be planted.


Working with Forest Research and eleven other institutions along the European Atlantic coast, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is taking part in a major EU-funded Interreg (inter regional) project that aims to grow and monitor a range of different tree species that might be important to our future forestry planning.


Thirty different species have been carefully selected and each participating site will grow 36 specimens of each species, from three different seed provenances. These seed provenances have been carefully chosen from across the climatic range for each species. Scientists will monitor the specimens as they grow as well as collecting weather data for each site. By pooling the data recorded we will be able to gain a better understanding of how different tree species and seed provenances respond to a range of different climatic conditions. This information will help forest managers to choose species that suit the future climate predicted for their local area; ensuring we safeguard our future forests.

Useful links
More information about Forest Research
About Westonbirt’s trees
Join the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Be careful of the trenches! By Sophie Nash, Project Officer

Friday, January 13th, 2012

We are literally brightening up at the news that funding has been received to upgrade our electricity supply from Phase 1 to Phase 3.

The only way we have enough power at the moment is due to changing our lights to energy efficient bulbs. A good move in some respects but the supply on site is at its limit, which was recently experienced when the lights went out during a presentation at the arboretum which was taking place at the same time as Autumnwatch! The upgrade of the power supply will enable us to construct the new car park and Welcome Building.

Whilst we upgrade the power supply we will be taking the opportunity to move the cables underground so that the views across the Downs can be returned to their original, natural beauty. This will contribute to the Westonbirt Project’s work in restoring the Downs Grade I landscape, which also involves moving the existing car park and restoring it as grassland. The excavated materials will be used to create ‘Wigmore Mound’ at the end of Holford Ride.

Work will begin from Monday 16 January and continue until mid February!

For more information on the Westonbirt Project visit