Research Visit for Powys Tree Nurseries
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© 2006 Glasu
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Tuesday 06 June 2006
10 entrepreneurs from Powys recently travelled to Farnham, Surrey to learn more about the science behind handling and storing tree seed. The visitors are all exploring the opportunity to start tree nursery businesses, supplying native trees grown form seed collected locally, within Powys.
The aim of the visit was to look at some of the tools, techniques and equipment used to treat and store tree seed. This knowledge can then be used to improve the germination rates for seed sown in the nursery, improving production efficiency, plant quality and profitability of Powys businesses.
The visit was made to Alice Holt, Forestry Commission’s tree seed branch, which coordinates the supply of approximately 30 million seeds used annually to grow seedlings in the Forestry Commission’s own tree nurseries.
The visitors were given a guided tour of the research laboratories and nursery facilities, discussing issues such as cleaning, treating, storing tree seed and seed testing.
“It provided an informative tour, some useful practical information on seed storage and processing, and a thought-provoking debate about provenance…I found it a very valuable experience,” commented, Callum Johnston, who runs Tan y Llyn Nursery near Meifod in Powys.
The visit was organised as part of an ongoing training programme offered by “Tree Nurseries of Powys”. This is a Glasu project, promoting the business opportunity to supply native trees grown from local seed in Powys and raises awareness of the importance of planting these, so called, Local Provenance Native Trees.
Cliff Webb Glasu’s project coordinator said “the equipment and facilities at Alice Holt are obviously designed for operations on much larger scale than individual Powys growers might use in their own nurseries. However, the principles are the same and seeing the operations will, I am sure, prompt ideas for visitors to develop their own practical solutions and equipment for seed handling on a smaller scale”
A tree’s provenance relates to the seed which it grew from, specifically where this seed was collected. There is evidence native trees grown from locally collected seed have a number of environmental, economic and social benefits:
- Better survival rates. The genetic makeup of local provenance native trees and shrubs ensures that they are better adapted to local conditions found in Wales. Planting better adapted trees ensures better survival rates, avoiding the costs of replanting.
- Conserving local wildlife. Historically in Wales many planted native trees have been grown from seed collected from very different areas (either lowland UK, or worse from continental Europe). Trees grown from imported seed may differ significantly in important genetic characteristics, influencing the time they come into leaf, flower and fruit, upsetting the fine balance between native trees and the wildlife they support.
- Reducing climate change. Sourcing trees and seeds locally reduces transport costs and reduces pollution. Extra transport miles are incurred when nurseries outside Wales travel to collect welsh tree seed, then transporting it back to the nursery and once more transporting the tree seedlings back to Wales for planting.
- Safeguarding local employment. Supporting a local nursery business has a multiplier effect on the local economy, with employees spending their money on local goods and services.There are opportunities for nursery enterprises creating full time jobs, as well as for existing land-owners to diversify, developing part-time nursery jobs to supplement their income.
- Conserving local natural heritage. There is now widespread appreciation of the environmental and economic advantages of planting native trees, rather than, for example non-native conifers. Native trees and woodlands, particularly remnants of ancient woodland, are a crucial part of local landscapes, preserving a region’s historical character and enhancing its attractiveness for tourism.
- Social, recreational and health benefits..Benefits to social and personal health from observing or experiencing natural green spaces, including woodland, has been well documented. Increasingly, visitors appreciate woodland, not just as a general experience of trees and shrubs, but also according to a deeper understanding of the biodiversity any woodland supports. Such experiences can have more profound emotional and spiritual benefits for our mental well being. Increasingly, visitors appreciate woodland, not just as a general experience of trees and shrubs, but also according to a deeper understanding of the biodiversity any woodland supports. Such experiences can have more profound emotional and spiritual benefits for our mental well being.
Thanks to: Forest Research’s Peter Gosling, who helped organise the visit and to other Forest Research staff who contributed to the day ( Alison Melvin, Corinne Baker, Shelagh McCartan and Richard Jinks).
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