Felbrigg rangers help save nation's beech trees

We're helping to ensure the survival of Norfolk’s rare beech trees, with rangers lassoing seeds that will be stored in the UK’s first national collection of tree seeds.

Felbrigg is home to around 70 ancient beech trees - some up to 300 years old. 
 
Rangers hope to send ten kilogrammes of beech mast (seeds) to Kew Gardens’ Millennium Seed Bank at their Wakehurst estate in West Sussex. The seed bank stores plant seeds from around the world, protecting the species against diseases that could wipe them out in the wild.

Rare genetics

Our Deputy Head Ranger, Richard Daplyn, says: "Separated from the UK’s other beech trees by their coastal location, the Norfolk beeches developed a distinct genetic make-up found nowhere else in Britain."

“It’s extraordinary to think that seeds from our trees could help ensure the survival of the UK’s woods in the future," Richard adds. 

A beech mast (seed)
Felbrigg beech masts held in palm of hand
A beech mast (seed)

Saved for the nation

Responsible for storing the Felbrigg beech seeds is Clare Trivedi, UK National Tree Seed Project Co-ordinator at Kew Gardens. 

Clare explains: “Building up our seed collections of the nation’s favourite and most important tree species is a vital step in combating the plant pests and diseases that threaten our best loved trees – and are already changing Britain’s landscapes forever.”

Those seeds are a long way up
Ranger Mary holding the rope that will shake the tree
Those seeds are a long way up

Lasso

Richard says: “Despite the recent wet weather, we've  managed to collect a few bags of seed - using a process that's simple, but exhausting.

"We throw a lasso over the beech’s branch and shake the tree. The beech mast then fall onto the ground sheet below."

Rangers hope to collect more beech mast over the coming 18 months. The seeds will be stored by Kew Gardens in sub-zero temperatures in vaults deep beneath the Sussex countryside.

" It’s extraordinary to think that seeds from our trees could help ensure the survival of the UK’s woods in the future"
- Richard Daplyn, Deputy Head Ranger