Main Content

Local Origin Seed Project

The trunk of an Oak Tree, Calke Abbey

Given the huge numbers of trees being planted in The National Forest, it is important that we consider where those trees have come from, their origin. The origin of the trees and shrubs planted in the Forest is important as many of the trees planted in the UK are actually from Central and Eastern Europe. There are a number of advantages in using locally-sourced plants rather than those from overseas. Firstly, trees grown in Britain are adapted to our climate, which can be quite different from that of Central Europe. There is also a concern that British trees have been isolated from their continental cousins for tens of thousands of years and, during that time, the wildlife that relies upon them has evolved separately. This has led to concerns that the special relationships that have developed between British trees and their wildlife may be disrupted by the planting of too many European trees.

It is because of this that the National Forest Company encourages the use, wherever possible, of locally-sourced trees and shrubs. To make this possible, the National Forest Company joined up with Charnwood Borough Council in 2002 to begin a pioneering project to provide trees and shrubs of a local origin for planting in The National Forest.

The National Forest Local Origin Seed Project Officer has worked with a wide range of seed collectors, plant nurseries and the people that plant trees within The National Forest and Charnwood. This work has been funded by the National Forest Company, Charnwood Borough Council, The Forestry Commission, English Nature, The Environment Agency and Staffordshire County Council. Its four main aims are:

  • to facilitate collection of large quantities of National Forest seed from local origin sites researched by the project;
  • to promote the growing on of National Forest seed as local origin stock by commercial nurseries, so that sufficient is available for local planting schemes;
  • to promote and encourage the use of local origin stock in The National Forest , Charnwood district and adjoining areas; and
  • to ensure the registration of identified sources of local origin seed under the Forestry Commission's 2002 Forest Reproductive Material Regulations.

So far, the project has been a great success. The first stock grown from seed collected in The National Forest became available in the 2003/04 growing season and were used in the planting of National Forest Tender Scheme sites. The success of the scheme has led to a new initiative where we are working with partners to expand the project to provide locally-sourced trees and shrubs across the whole of the East Midlands region.