Gwent Wildlife Trust is celebrating the milestone of collecting 1,305,631 seeds (with more currently being processed) during 90 plus collections from South Wales and the borders, during the past five years, as part of a national project to protect the UK’s trees.
Gwent Wildlife Trust has been a partner in the UK National Tree Seed Project, a project set up by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, with funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, for five years.
The project was set up to build a collection of the country’s native tree seeds for long-term conservation.
Tree seeds that have been collected as part of the project are safely banked in the underground vaults of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world, to form the UK’s first national collection of tree seeds.
These collections play a vital role in conservation work to protect UK trees and woodlands, including against pests and diseases such as Ash dieback and global challenges such as the effects of climate change. The collections, and associated data, are available to researchers working on solutions to tackle the many threats facing our woodlands.
Gwent Wildlife Trust has been working during the past 5 years to collect over 1.3 million seeds with the help of 15 volunteers. The group has worked successfully in all weathers, to collect popular UK tree species such as Hazel, various Willow species, and Yew, helping to make a collection to be sent to the Millennium Seed Bank.
Andy Karran, Senior Conservation Ecologist at Gwent Wildlife Trust (GWT) said project has had multiple benefits for GWT, apart from the obvious benefits of conserving our trees for future generations, their volunteers enjoy educational days out in the woods and the Trust has forged good links with woodland owners.
Gwent Wildlife Trust Kew Millennium Seed Bank volunteer Peter Hunt, said: “I am proud to have been able to contribute to this worthwhile and well-run project. Over the past few years, I have appreciated those days out in the beautiful woods of South Wales, collecting seeds and learning to appreciate the diversity of woodlands and the valuable role that trees and other species play in the fascinating woodland ecosystem.”
The UK National Tree Seed Project launched in May 2013 with the aim of securing genetically diverse collections of UK native trees and shrubs. The target species the project aims to collect include many which underpin the UK’s wider plant and animal diversity, as well as supporting the woodland industry, tourism and recreation. So far the project has collected over 13 million tree seeds from over 70 different species right across the UK, from Cornwall to the Isle of Harris, and Northern Ireland to Norfolk. From sea level up to 600 metres above sea level. The project has had the support of over 400 volunteers from 30 partner organisations in a massive UK wide conservation programme.
Alice Hudson, UK National Tree Seed Project Officer, said: “Over the last seven years, with the help of all our partners and the generous funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery we have created a resource that we hope to be genetically representative of our target native UK tree species. Building up this seed collection of some of the nation’s favourite and most important tree species is a vital step in combating the multiple challenges facing our woodlands, such as pests and diseases and a warming climate. We can’t thank Gwent Wildlife Trust enough for their support in ensuring that seeds from across the UK are collected and their future conserved.”