Media Release: Gold, frankincense and fir

THE iCONic Project, an international conifer conservation initiative led from Scotland, made a seasonal and symbolic gesture of goodwill this morning, gifting an iconic Monkey Puzzle Christmas tree to the Scottish Parliament. Linda Fabiani, SPCB (Scottish parliamentary Corporate Body) member and MSP for East Kilbride accepted the gift on behalf of the Scottish Parliament.

A Perthshire Big Tree Country initiative, the iCONic Project was set up in 2009 to pioneer the conservation of the many threatened species of conifers around the world.

Taking on the role of Patron, Lady Stormont was at the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 20th December to formally present the tree.

Lady Stormont said: “Conifers are a key feature of our stunning landscape in Scotland and the ecosystems they originate from.  They are an incredibly important and useful group of plants worldwide and it is frightening to think that nearly half the world’s species are threatened with extinction.

“Conservation projects, like iCONic, make it possible to continue to develop Scotland’s natural beauty while also taking the lead in what is increasingly a critical global conservation role.

“The iCONic Project aims to achieve that through the collection, cultivation, study and development of these trees and I’m proud to support them and to offer this magnificent Monkey Puzzle tree in their name.”

Linda Fabiani, SPCB (Scottish parliamentary Corporate Body) member and MSP for East Kilbride, commented: “On behalf of the Scottish Parliament, I am delighted to accept this specimen tree from The iCONic Project and commend them on putting Scotland right at the heart of their world leading conservation efforts.

“Scotland’s forests and tree collections have a key role to play in The Year of Natural Scotland and it is of vital importance that we continue to collect seeds from the indigenous forests of threatened species to boost conservation efforts across the globe using the extraordinary expertise and resources that exist in Scotland, building on our traditions of global tree collecting and planting that go back hundreds of years.

“When trees are threatened by things like pests and diseases, conservation collections like The iCONic Project, are providing a much needed insurance policy to help guard against extinction.”

Says a spokesperson: “Globally, there are around 700 species of conifers with around half of these threatened with obliteration in the wild. The traditional Christmas tree, which will adorn our homes over the forthcoming holiday season, like the Fraser Fir from the USA, is one of the species which face extinction, as well as the rare but incredibly popular Monkey Puzzle from Chile and the Giant Redwood from California.

“A diverse range of threats are targeting these magnificent trees including illegal, and uncontrolled logging, habitat destruction for land use conversion, over-grazing, pests and diseases and climate change.”

The iCONic Project brings together the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and Perthshire Big Tree Country in a long term mission to save the species.

Lady Stormont’s commitment to the iCONic Project’s destiny is firmly rooted at the seat of one of Scotland’s most historic locations, with specimen trees carefully planted in the grounds of her ancestral home of Scone Palace in Perthshire joining one of Scotland’s foremost tree collections, where specimens from around the world have been planted for centuries.

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Contact: Tricia Fox
Phone: 441738658187