Media Release: Rescue mission for Scotland’s heritage trees


A RESCUE mission is underway in Highland Perthshire this week to improve the condition of some of Scotland’s heritage trees, following extensive damage caused by last year’s storms.

Dunkeld’s Cathedral Grove, situated just to the west of the town’s famous cathedral, was badly damaged in last winter’s storms, losing several of its notable trees including the Japanese Hiba, giant redwood trees and a Colorado White Fir considered to have been the biggest in the British Isles.

The latest work is the penultimate stage of a rescue mission brokered by the National Tree Collections of Scotland (NTCS) that will help to secure the grove’s future.

Tom Christian, project officer for NTCS, said:

“The work being done will address safety issues and help to improve the overall structure of Cathedral Grove’s remaining big trees. After the storms of last winter we needed both to address the damage and minimise the risk of it happening again.

“The National Tree Collections of Scotland commissioned a tree survey to assess all the trees in the grove, then working with partners in the Perthshire Big Tree Country initiative and Historic Scotland, who own the cathedral, funding was secured to rescue this important woodland collection.”

High above the paths that meander through this cathedral of trees, arboriculturists are harnessed in as they remove dead and broken branches from the tree canopies.

Veteran and heritage tree specialist, Paul Hanson of Arboretum Internationale, is leading the team.

He commented: “By removing the dead and broken wood, and a small percentage of the smaller living branches from throughout the crown of the tree, we will reduce the so-called ‘sail effect’, allowing more wind to pass through the canopy which means the trees will be better able to stand up to wind in the future.

“Of course, aesthetically, the key to this kind of work is that when the untrained eye looks at the finished job, they shouldn’t be able to see any significant difference!”

Cathedral Grove sits at the heart of Perthshire Big Tree Country on the Hilton Dunkeld House Estate, and is one of the county’s famous ‘big tree’ sites.

The final stage of the rescue mission will take place later this year when a new generation of trees will be planted in the grove in partnership with The iCONic Project, a global mission to save the world’s most threatened conifers.

Tom concluded:

“What these experiences teach us is the importance of maintaining woodlands for future generations and to think ahead by continuing to cultivate and plant more trees.”


Notes to Editors

1. The National Tree Collections Scotland is a partnership project, led by Forestry Commission Scotland and Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.

2. It aims to involve tree collections at sites around the country in a multi-site national arboretum for Scotland, raising awareness of Scotland’s world-leading role in tree conservation.

3. It also aims to highlight the rich history of Scottish plant collectors, whose legacy shapes modern forestry – and its significant contribution to Scotland’s rural economy.

4. Paul Hanson is managing director of Arboretum Internationale Ltd. or 01821 640 555.

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Contact: Tom Christian
Phone: 01315527171