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Rare trees protected for National Tree Week

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Some of the rarest trees in Europe have been helped as part of a partnership project for National Tree Week (NTW) – the UK’s biggest annual celebration of trees.

The Wye Valley is a centre of diversity for Whitebeam evolution, with internationally important populations of these rare trees. Doward Whitebeam, Evans’s Whitebeam, Green’s Whitebeam, Herefordshire Whitebeam, Ship Rock Whitebeam and Symonds Yat Whitebeam are the six species in the Wye Valley which occur nowhere else in the world. All of them, put together, are rarer than the Giant Panda.

Over the summer, staff from the Forestry Commission and The Tree Council, working with the Dean Green Team volunteer group, have been surveying rare Whitebeam trees high up on the cliffs of the Wye Valley in Herefordshire and Gloucestershire. This partnership culminated in a day of action to protect the future of these rare trees on Tuesday 28th November, during National Tree Week. Some of the sites were so inaccessible that tree climbers had to assist, as non-native trees and scrub were felled to give more light to the Whitebeams, allowing them to flower and fruit. Network Rail staff also joined the group during the summer, to learn about rare Whitebeams and improve their management of these trees in the Bristol Gorge.

Project advisor Dr Tim Rich, a national expert on Whitebeam trees said ‘’I am delighted that these rare trees are being looked after. We have cleared tall trees from around the Whitebeams that I was concerned were shading them out. Their future is much more secure now.‘’

Kate Wollen from the Forestry Commission, who organised the work, said ‘’Letting in more light to the Whitebeams was heavy work but very worthwhile. We are so lucky to have such a great network of partners and volunteers who are willing to help and give these great rarities a chance to flower, seed, reproduce and produce our trees of the future’’

Jon Stokes of The Tree Council said “During this year’s National Tree Week, The Tree Council have been calling on everyone to celebrate the value of trees and appreciate them all. This has been the perfect project for NTW, as it has engaged both local volunteers and tree conservation professionals in valuing and protecting these globally important trees”.

For further information on National Tree Week please contact Jon Stokes: 07850 389 862.

For further information about the rare Whitebeams please contact the Forestry Commission.