22nd Oct - This Autumn Somerset Wildlife Trust will be collecting seed from a variety of trees across its Mendip reserves as part of a national project to protect the UK’s trees by creating a huge tree seed bank. Somerset Wildlife Trust is part of the UK National Tree Seed Project, which has been set up by Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, and made possible with funding from players of People’s Postcode Lottery.
Tree seeds collected as part of the project – and those collected next year - will be safely banked in the underground vaults of Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank – forming the UK’s first national collection of tree seeds. These seeds can then play a vital role in conservation work to protect UK trees and woodlands. The collections, and associated data, will be available to researchers working on solutions to tackle the many threats facing our woodlands.
With the help of volunteer reserve wardens who regularly monitor the quality of seeds, the seeds will be collected when they are at their ripest and in the best condition. The Trust has already collected seed from Wayfaring Trees - a small tree of woodland edges, hedgerows, scrub and downland – from its Ubley Warren Reserve. In the coming months, the Trust will collect Spindle seed from Rose Wood and Mascall’s Wood and will also have professional tree climbers coming to the Trust’s Cheddar Wood Reserve to collect small leaved lime seeds.
James Ozolins, East Mendip’s Assistant Reserves Manager explains why the project is so important: “With our ever-changing climate and the associated spread of tree pests and diseases it is extremely important to gather genetic information on the full range of native tree species including the less common species associated with ravine woodland and limestone grassland. Our Mendip woodlands are vital as they are home to an incredibly large and diverse variety of wildlife, from the smallest invertebrates to bats, birds and our some of our favourite small mammals such as dormice. Projects such as this ensure that we can continue to support these habitats in the future as our landscapes and environment evolves.”
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Notes to editors:
About the National Tree Seed Project
The UK National Tree Seed Project launched in May 2013 with a list of priority native trees and shrubs targeted for collection. This priority list gave ranking to individual species according to their conservation ratings, prevalence in the landscape and vulnerability to pests and diseases. Species on the list include ash, common juniper, Scots pine, common alder, common beech, silver birch and yew
About Somerset Wildlife Trust – www.somersetwildlife.org
Somerset’s wildlife is part of what makes living, working and visiting the county so special. Somerset Wildlife Trust has been protecting vulnerable wildlife and preserving Somerset’s wild places for over 50 years and, with over 18,000 members, is the largest conservation charity in the county. Alongside our members and volunteers we work year round to protect wildlife, transform landscapes and put nature back into people’s lives.
Our reserves holding of over 1700 hectares incorporates a diverse range of habitats from wetlands to woodlands, grasslands and meadows, and provide secure environments for a diverse range of wildlife such as Dormice, Otters, Hedgehogs, Barn Owls and many other species - as well as providing safe havens for some of Somerset’s most iconic species such as Bittern and Large Blue butterfly. These habitats also connect green spaces across the county so wildlife can travel, and are the bedrock upon which we are able to deliver key conservation programmes across the year.
The majority of our work is made possible through the support of our members and people who live and work in the county who choose to make donations, fundraise for us or leave generous legacies. By working together with our members and supporters we really can make a difference.
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Notes to editors
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a world famous scientific organisation, internationally respected for its outstanding collections as well as its scientific expertise in plant diversity, conservation and sustainable development in the UK and around the world. Kew Gardens is a major international and a top London visitor attraction. Kew’s 132 hectares of landscaped gardens, and Wakehurst, Kew’s Wild Botanic Garden, attract over 2.1 million visits every year. Kew was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2003 and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2009. Wakehurst is home to Kew's Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild plant seed bank in the world. Kew receives approximately one third of its funding from Government through the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and research councils. Further funding needed to support Kew’s vital work comes from donors, membership and commercial activity including ticket sales.
The UK National Tree Seed Project was launched in 2013 by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in partnership with players of People’s Postcode Lottery and others. The project aims to secure genetically diverse collections of UK native trees and shrubs and was sparked by the need to protect the nation’s woodlands in the face of the spread of pests and diseases such as ash dieback.
Read more about Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank: https://www.kew.org/science/collections/seed-collection
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