LADY Stormont, patron of a ground-breaking conservation project based in Scotland, has just returned from a visit to the USA which included a trip to Yosemite National Park, an area which has hit the headlines recently as the location for one of the largest wildfires in modern California history.
Visiting the native forests of giant redwood during a family holiday to California, it was Lady Stormont’s first visit to see these famous trees, and the project team are hoping to follow up on her visit with an official iCONic seed collecting expedition, made all the more urgent by the recent devastation caused by the wildfires which have ravaged the forests over the last four weeks.
Giant redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) is commonplace in Perthshire.
Every large estate, and almost all the smaller ones, can claim to have at least one, including Lady Stormont’s own home, Scone Palace, which has numerous specimens in the famous pinetum.
Perthshire also lays claim to the largest-girthed conifer in the UK and Ireland, which is a giant redwood growing at Cluny House Gardens, near Aberfeldy.
Following the species discovery in the mid 19th century, the Giant Redwood has suffered extensive deforestation as huge swathes of forest, containing enormous trees, were felled for timber.
This historic decline, coupled with the associated fragmentation and the new threats this can bring, resulted in giant redwood being officially listed as a threatened species.
Lady Stormont said: “It was an exciting privilege to be able to see these remarkable trees in their native habitat.
“My visit served as a poignant reminder of the great work being done by TheiCONic Project to secure the future of trees like the redwoods, and of the importance of using resources sustainably.”
Tom Christian, iCONic’s project manager commented, said: “The urgency in protecting the future of these magnificent trees is more pressing than ever.
“Threats from felling and, more recently, wildfires remind us home how important it is to establish a guarantee for the future of this species through conservation work.”
Seeds collected on iCONic expeditions will help bolster important ex-situ conservation collections in the UK and in the network of International Conifer Conservation Programme sites.
You can follow The iCONic project on twitter www.twitter.com/btciconic or on facebook at www.facebook.com/btciconic.
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