Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Expanding Westonbirt's role in global tree conservation

Posted: March 1, 2023 at 09:47 am Author: Dan Crowley - Westonbirt's Tree Conservation Manager

Dan Crowley

We’re thrilled to announce that The Friends have provided funds to support the new Forestry England role of Tree Conservation Manager at Westonbirt. Former arboretum Dendrologist Dan Crowley has been appointed to deliver on conservation objectives befitting a world-leading botanic institute, supporting work both nationally and internationally. We’re extremely pleased to have Dan’s expertise to support conservation work at Westonbirt and beyond.

"Having a long-standing association with Westonbirt, I am delighted to return to Forestry England (FE) employment as the arboretum’s Tree Conservation Manager and I’m grateful to The Friends for supporting this role. I am also pleased to continue to work with Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) as we work towards mutual tree conservation goals. Here at Westonbirt, we are well-placed to further develop our role in global tree conservation, working with other organizations both in the UK and internationally to help save tree species from extinction. There is lots of exciting work to do and I am enjoying getting stuck in!"

Dan Crowley, Tree Conservation Manager - Forestry England

Westonbirt from above

Read on to find out some of the challenges this role will help address…

As highlighted in the State of the World’s Trees, published by BGCI in September 2021, 30% of the world’s tree species are threatened with extinction in the wild. Among efforts to scale up tree conservation, in partnership with FE and multiple other institutions, BGCI has established a suite of Global Conservation Consortia (GCC), to address the conservation needs of highly threatened tree groups. Consortia established so far include groups of great significance to Forestry England tree collections including; maples, oaks, magnolias and rhododendrons.

Spring at Westonbirt

Since July 2020, Westonbirt, The National Arboretum, has hosted BGCI’s Global Conservation Consortia Manager, who has been assisting Westonbirt with developing its global tree conservation objectives in alignment with the arboretum’s 10-Year Vision ‘To Be A World Leader In Trees’. In spring 2022, Westonbirt published the second edition of The Little Book of Disappearing Trees, profiling 50 threatened species that grow at the arboretum, highlighting their plight in the wild, and what is being done to ensure that they do not go extinct. In light of the myriad of challenges facing the world’s trees, the role of botanic gardens and arboreta is more crucial than ever.

With this new conservation role, Westonbirt will be well-placed to develop and maintain contact and collaboration with leading institutions around the world. This will include working with lead institutions for each of the GCCs for tree groups, to prioritise taxa for conservation action and to support this work via involvement in both in situ and ex situ action.

In situ

Conserving species in their natural habitats and environment.

Ex situ

Conserving a species outside of its natural habitat, such as in an arboretum or seed bank.

Maples in autumn

This role will also support existing and future conservation objectives of Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, providing a crucial link between the National Arboreta and BGCI and linking with existing conifer conservation work including the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s International Conifer Conservation Programme. The partnership with BGCI in support of the GCC, facilitated by the role of Tree Conservation Manager, will enable Westonbirt and Bedgebury to enhance their roles in global tree conservation.

As we move forward in our changing world, preserving our native tree species and protecting the arboretum’s tree collection for the enjoyment of present and future generations has never been greater.

Thank you for helping to protect trees and enrich lives.