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RHS Rosemoor selected as home for endangered Wollemi pines

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Rosemoor Garden Kitchen Restaurant
Posted on
12 Feb 2024
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RHS Rosemoor selected as home for endangered Wollemi pines as part of the first global ‘metacollection’ to save the iconic species from extinction.

The RHS Garden Rosemoor, situated near Great Torrington in North Devon (and home to Food Drink Devon member The Garden Restaurant), has been chosen to be part of a global conservation project to protect the endangered Wollemia pine from Australia, one of a few very select sites in the UK.

Wollemi pines have been dubbed the ‘dinosaur tree’ because fossil records show they were living 200 million years ago alongside the dinosaurs. The pine (Wollemia nobilis), was discovered by chance in 1994 in wilderness area in the Wollemi National Park, north-west of Sydney. Fewer than 100 wild trees are left growing in the wild and their location is kept a secret to prevent the spread of pests and diseases. These trees narrowly escaped being destroyed by wildfires in 2019-2020 which burnt more than 10 million hectares of land in eastern Australia. As such, the species is now classified as critically endangered on the IUCN’s red list, an important indicator of the world’s biodiversity which sets out the risks of extinction for plant and animal species.

Recent advances in genetic techniques have enabled Australian plant science and conservation experts to identify and breed genetically diverse Wollemi pines. For the first time, collections of these saplings are being made available to botanic gardens across the world. Locations have been chosen with a suitable climate, best suited for the trees to survive climate changes ahead. Together they will create a metacollection, a botanical collection shared by separate organisations but cared for collaboratively to research and conserve the species for the future. Growing the trees worldwide in this way preserves the widest range of genetic diversity found in the wild population and aims to safeguard Wollemi pines from becoming extinct.

More than 170 young Wollemi pine trees grown by Botanic Gardens of Sydney were shipped from Australia and then carefully looked after at the Forestry England’s tree nursery at Bedgebury until they were delivered to their new homes in October. Now the young trees are safely out of quarantine, they have been planted on the woodland bank on the northern border of the RHS garden – the images attached were taken of the last tree of six to be planted at Rosemoor on Thursday 8 February.

Here is a link to the RHS website with more information

www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/articles/wollemi-pines-planted-at-rhs-gardens

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