Archive for November, 2015

STIHL Treetop Walkway: an offshoot emerges!

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Work is continuing on the STIHL Treetop Walkway, which will give visitors an exciting new perspective on trees. The walkway is part of phase two of the Westonbirt Project.

At the end of last week, we saw the installation of the ‘walkaround’ offshoot of the main walkway which will eventually include a rope bridge!

It was a tricky element for the contractors – with five legs to put in place and fix to the relatively small steel frame of the circular platform, it was as close to fiddly as building on this scale gets.

The STIHL Treetop Walkway and 'walkaround' offshoot.
A closer shot of the 'walkaround', which will eventually feature a rope bridge.

STIHL Treetop Walkway: family-friendly and accessible to all…

Friday, November 27th, 2015

Work is continuing on the STIHL Treetop Walkway, which will give visitors an exciting new perspective on trees. The walkway is part of phase two of the Westonbirt Project.

This week the contractors made great progress and we’re now seeing the walkway approach the Welcome Building.

We’re getting a real sense of the gentle inclines that will make our walkway an experience which is family-friendly and accessible for all.

A stunning aerial shot of the walkway snaking into the trees.The gracefull curves will make the walkway a joy from the ground too!The walkway snakes into the trees.Along the way 'bulges' in the walkway will be home to fascinating interpretation features.It has been designed to be wheelchair, mobility scooter and pushcair friendly.The walkway as it approaches the Welcome Building

Behind the scenes at Enchanted Christmas

Thursday, November 26th, 2015

Last night we tested the lights on the Enchanted Christmas illuminated trail. It’s looking good and we can’t wait to open the gates on 27 November!

Tickets are available at www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt-christmas. Booking is advised to guarantee entry on any night of the event, and required on Saturday evenings due to exceptional demand.

Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum credit Forestry Commission - Incense cedarEnchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum credit Forestry Commission - Victory GladeEnchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum credit Forestry Commission - Victory Glade

Tree of the month: December 2015

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

Abies numidica
Abies numidica foliage
What is tree of the month?
Abies numidica (Algerian fir)

Why is it tree of the month?
Critically Endangered in the wild, Abies numidica is one of the world’s rarest true firs. It only grows wild in Algeria, where threats to its natural habitat include fire, grazing and wood use for fuel. Also rare in cultivation, its form and foliage are quite distinctive when you get to know it – seek it out!

Where can I find it?
A fine specimen grows just off Holford Ride close to Loop Walk in the Old Arboretum. Another sizeable tree is on Mitchell Drive, close to the junction with Loop Walk. See the interactive map for more detail!

Dan Crowley, Dendrologist

STIHL Treetop Walkway – aiming high!

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Work is continuing on the STIHL Treetop Walkway, which will give visitors an exciting new perspective on trees. The walkway is part of phase two of the Westonbirt Project.

This week, the highest sections of the STIHL Treetop Walkway were carefully craned into place.

Negotiating a large cedar took careful planning and, of course, our skilled Tree Team were on hand to climb the branches and assist with this tricky manoeuvre with the crane.

The legs for this section are the longest, measuring 13 metres. As the legs are put in at an angle, the walkway itself is at 11 metres at point.

It’s great to see the walkway snaking through the trees – as we’d hoped, it will take visitors up-close to the highest branches of our trees!

This section of the walkway comes very close to a large cedar - our Tree Team were on hand to help!Carefully craning one of the highest sections into placeA real sense of height and proximity to the treesThe walkway snakes between tree canopies

Wolfson Tree Management Centre: a lot has happened in a month! Part two!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Work is currently underway on what will become the new Wolfson Tree Management Centre. The new facility will provide all that Westonbirt’s expert tree team needs to manage the tree collection.

The Mess Building
The new mess building will provide the tree team with a communal space for team meetings and lunch breaks as well as a WC and a drying room for their chainsaw trousers and jackets.

The new building is located between the new machinery store and the Forestry Commission offices and will be a significant upgrade compared to their existing cabin!

Perchard and Co., the contractor, and a group of volunteers have been making great progress over the last month. All timber has been sourced from the arboretum through our on-going management.

Click on the images below to see the progress in more detail – hover over each image for a description!

Sophie Nash, Project Manager

Tree of the month: November 2015

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

Nikko maple

What is tree of the month?
Acer nikoense – Nikko maple

Why is it tree of the month?
For late autumn colour, when this species performs, it performs very well. A trifoliolate leaved maple from Japan, closely related to Acer griseum, which can also be stunning well into November.

Where can I find it?
Good examples can be found on Main Drive and in Acer Glade in the Old Arboretum. We will be adding plants from wild collected seed in the next few years.

Dan Crowley, Dendrologist

Case Study for National Youth Work Week 2015 #YWW15

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

How young people have helped shape the HLF Community Youth activities at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

Having an app based on our choices is cool” Team WB member.

Westonbirt attracts over 350,000 visits per year and is known worldwide for its spectacular autumn colour. Enabling the public to engage with the tree collection and develop an understanding of its care and conservation is a core part of the arboretum’s role. However, very few of these visits are made by young people.The community youth programme was established as a part of the Westonbirt Project, a Heritage Lottery funded project aimed at developing new activities to bring under-represented audiences to Westonbirt. Attempting to connect teenagers with trees could be a daunting prospect, but as Community Youth Officer, Karen Price explains:

“As we were looking at ways of attracting a youth audience to the arboretum to connect with the collection, rather than try and guess what would interest young people, we decided to ask the young people themselves”

…hence Team WB, the arboretum’s very own youth forum was formed!

As a result of widespread consultation over the first six months of the project, a comprehensive and challenging programme has been developed, and since piloted by visiting youth groups.

Karen says that “the most common request was for the opportunity to take part in an adventure that puts their skills, knowledge and abilities to the test. This ties in very well with the qualities and adventurous spirit needed by the Victorian plant hunters that collected some of the original plants for the arboretum.”

The two programmes created were:

>> Wild Westonbirt – an informal learning programme encouraging young people to explore the wilder side of the arboretum;
>> Can You Cut It? – learning traditional woodland management skills through coppice restoration and practical conservation activities.

Since January 2014, there have been nearly 1000 visits, by young people aged 11 – 25, participating in activities either at the arboretum or through outreach work. In addition, over 300 visitors have been consulted at Forest Live events.

Team WB participants have also helped shape the future of youth involvement at the arboretum by:

>> Providing feedback for the development of a range of new, specifically branded, youth marketing materials;
>> Providing content ideas and testing of TreeQuests, the Westonbirt app;
>> Providing a regular focus group for senior management of the arboretum to gain a youth view on site developments.

For the young people, it enables them to have their voice heard and feel a valued part of large organisation.

‘Westonbirt is bigger than anything we would normally get involved in. It’s bigger than a school survey and having an app based on our choices is cool’ Ruby – Team WB member.

Westonbirt Team WB
To find out more about how to get involved with Team WB, visit our community youth pages or follow Westonbirt Team WB on Facebook.