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York
National Park Seeks Seed Collectors For Major Tree Project
Veteran tree, Hawnby Estate, Bilsdale by Mark Antcliff
The North York Moors National Park Authority is looking to recruit a team of volunteer seed gatherers to help build a collection of native seeds from ancient woodlands and veteran trees.

The project will see up to 40,000 seeds collected from species including oak, hazel, holly, juniper and rowan.

Following collection, the seeds will be grown on by local nurseries, and then used in future woodland creation projects in the National Park.

Evidence shows that the North York Moors was almost entirely covered in woodland before humans started clearing them; now, only 4% of the area is woodland of ancient origin.

The planting of new woodland habitats is a key element of the National Park Authority’s conservation efforts.

However, sourcing seeds of local provenance - those that are genetically similar to the native trees of the local area - is extremely challenging.

Alasdair Fagan, Woodland Creation Officer at the North York Moors National Park Authority, explains the importance of provenance:

“Planting seedlings of local provenance has long been encouraged, as it is generally believed that these trees will be genetically adapted to best cope with local climate, pests and diseases.

“In particular, we are interested in collecting as many seeds as possible from ancient and veteran trees, sometimes aged up to 400 years old, as the genetic makeup of these trees has clearly allowed them to withstand the test of time.

“Having said that, the threat of climate change means that planting for current local conditions may no longer be the best approach, not if we wish to maximise the chances of these trees living for 100 years plus.

"We are therefore aiming to plant all our new woodlands with a healthy mix of local provenance trees, along with trees from other areas of the UK, particularly further south.”

Acorns
The process of seed collection differs depending on the species; however, both berries and nuts will need to be collected directly from the trees, rather than the ground, to ensure they are in the best possible condition.

The key window for successful seed collection will be from September to October 2018, although berries from holly can be collected later in the year. The seeds will be processed and grown on by local nurseries, allowing the National Park Authority to buy back the resulting trees at reduced cost.

The project is sponsored by the Woodland Trust, which has provided a grant of £1000 to help cover the cost of tools and equipment for the volunteers.

Sian Atkinson, Senior Outreach Manager for the Woodland Trust, said:
“The Woodland Trust is pleased to support this project, creating connections between people and their local woods and trees. Through volunteering people can help ensure a healthy future for the wonderful landscapes of the North York Moors.”

Alasdair continues:
“We’d be keen to hear from anyone who is interested in the project and who is able to donate a few days of their time over the autumn period.”

“It’s a great way to get outdoors and meet new people during a beautiful time of year, and each volunteer will be helping to shape the future of our woodlands in the North York Moors.”

If you would like to learn more about how you can become involved, please email the North York Moors National Park Authority on volunteers@northyorkmoors.org.uk, or phone Mark Antcliff on 01438 772700.

National Park Seeks Seed Collectors For Major Tree Project, 24th August 2018, 20:37 PM