The 350 acre Pinetum contains over 12,000 trees and shrubs (including 1,800 different tree species) from across five continents, many of them rare or endangered or both! It is now considered the largest and most complete collection of conifers in the world, something we can be very proud of as a nation. Bedgebury Pinetum is not just here to preserve threatened conifers, it is here to conserve them and that happens by understanding every species and then sharing this information.
Over 400 conifer species are in need of conservation measures and some are now virtually extinct in the wild. The Pinetum's goal has therefore never been more important. In understanding conifers in a global context, Bedgebury has been able to build partnerships with countries like China and Japan. We also have a much better understanding of which species to grow, and where, in order to appease our insatiable appetite for timber.
Forestry Commission staff have undertaken expeditions all over the world, from the remote mountains of northern Vietnam to giant redwood forests in California, collecting seed from the last remaining conifer forests. These seeds are bought back to the UK where they can be grown on at Bedgebury and, as a secondary precaution, stored in the Millennium Seed Bank. Every batch of seed is carefully scanned, x-rayed, tested for viability and pre-treated before sowing. Successes and failures are meticulously recorded to help achieve the maximum germination - if you can’t get the seeds to germinate then you can’t conserve the species! If you would like to read about some of our recent Friends-funded seed collecting trips, click here, or to find out about some of the rarer trees on site, click here.
However, as well as playing a crucial scientific role in international conservation, it is important to remember that the National Pinetum is also a beautiful and tranquil place to walk, picnic and enjoy nature away from the stresses of everyday life. It is only kept beautiful because of the site's hardworking tree team and dedicated volunteers.