Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

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United Kingdom - Gloucestershire - Tetbury

Institution Code: WESB

International Agenda Registration: Yes

BGCI Member: Yes

ArbNet Accredited: Level IV

Autumn colour at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
Autumn colour at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

About the Westonbirt, The National Arboretum

TAXA 2776 (297 genera, 1,860 spp., 15,013 plants)

Main Address:
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
Forestry Commission
Gloucestershire GL8 8QS United Kingdom

Telephone: 0300 067 4890
URL: forestryengland.uk/Westonbirt
Primary Email: westonbirt@forestryengland.uk

Staff Details

  • Director's Name: Andrew Smith
    Curator's Name: Mark Ballard
    Plant Records Officer's Name: Alison Vry
  • Total Staff:
    Horticultural Staff Number: 10
    Educational Staff Number: 5
    Research Staff Number: 4
    Administration Staff Number: 10

About the Garden

  • Institution Type: Botanic Garden
  • Status
  • Status: State: Yes
    Status: Educational: Yes
  • Date founded: 1829
  • Physical Data
  • Natural Vegetation Area: Yes
    Natural vegetation area: Size: 80 Hectares
  • Landscaped Area: Yes
    Landscaped Area: Size: 160 Hectares
  • Total Area: 240 Hectares
    Latitude: 51.60733
    Longitude: -2.21997
    Annual Rainfall: 900 mm
    Altitude: 130.00 Metres

Features and Facilities

  • Herbarium: No
    Arboretum: Yes
    Arboretum Size: 240
  • Micropropagation/ Tissue Culture Facilities: No
    Seed Bank: No
    Published Plant Catalogue: Yes
    Computer Plant Record System: Yes
  • Open to public: Yes
    Friends society: Yes
    Retail Outlet: Shop: Yes
    Retail Outlet: Plant Sales: No
    Disabled access: Yes
  • Number of Visitors: 400000
    Number of Volunteers: 250

Plant Collections

  • Accession Number: 6436
    Cultivation Taxa Num: 2716
  • Special Collections:National Collections of: Japanese maple cvs., Acer, Staphylea, Tilia, Juglandaceae

    Well represented genera of: Pinaceae, Betula, Cornus, Fagus, Ilex, Magnolia, Abies, Fraxinus, Prunus, Rhododendron, Picea. Autumn colouring species
  • Invasive Species Monitoring: Yes
    Plant Collection Policy: Yes

Conservation Programmes

  • Conservation Programme: Yes
    Medicinal Plant Programme: No
    Ex Situ Conservation Programme: No
    Reintroduction Programme: No

Research Programmes

Education Programmes

  • Visitor/Education Centre: Yes
    Education Signs in Garden: Yes
    Public Lectures/Talks: Yes
    Education Booklets/Leaflets: Yes
    Guided Tours: Yes
    Permanent Public Displays: Yes
    Special Exhibitions: Yes
    Courses for School Children: Yes
    Courses for General Public: Yes
    Education Programme: Yes

Hidden Voices

The aim of Hidden Voices was to engage with communities that do not visit Westonbirt, using a collaborative approach to enable the development of  shared understanding of trees and what they mean to society.

Project start date: Feb 2012     
Project end date: Oct 2012

Coppicing Laurel with volunteers.
© Westonbirt Arboretum



Using a collaborative approach to planning and developing activities with the community groups involved, the aim was to develop more sustained relationships and give staff and volunteers greater confidence.  

The project was designed to facilitate learning about developing collaborative community projects and, through this, deepen understanding of different audiences and reinforce relationships with these groups.

For the groups themselves the project was designed to allow them ease of access to botanic gardens, promote creativity and raise their awareness of; the role of trees in their lives, the importance of trees globally and issues surrounding sustainable woodland management.  Funding for transport to reduce the cost of visits was also a fundamental part of the project. Each group visited monthly for, six months followed by a final celebration.

A rainy trailer ride around the arboretum.
© Westonbirt Arboretum

The following community partners were selected:  

Bristol Drugs Project; working with disadvantaged adults - an independent agency that works with drug users, their relatives and friends to reduce drug and alcohol-related harm.

Awaz Utaoh; working with communities from different ethnicities - works within Bristol’s South Asian communities to tackle issues such as community segregation and isolation.

Stroud Macular Disease Society; working with older people at risk of exclusion - provides support to anyone who has lost any degree of central vision through Macular Disease.

Project activities included:

• Guided activity walks and craft activities exploring:
   -  Trees that feed us – food tasting and creation of tree foods recipe book
   -  Trees that clothe us – tree fibres and plant tie dying
   -  Trees that entertain us – creative writing, paper making, book making

• Practical woodland management tasks including:
   -  Laurel coppicing
   -  Green woodwork

Creative writing.
© Westonbirt Arboretum
Green woodworking.
© Westonbirt Arboretum



The project delivered 21 group visits by a total of approximately 112 individuals. It has facilitated a huge amount of learning about the specific needs of different audiences and the process of managing community projects.

The variety of practical conservation tasks support Westonbirt’s ongoing care and management. The Guided activity walks lead to the creation of an audio trail for visually impaired visitors, based on trees selected by the group for their sensory exploration and interesting stories. Other creative outputs are shared with visitors, this includes a recipe book and a photography exhibition.

Perspectives photography exhibition.
© Westonbirt Arboretum


All three organisations are visiting again this year and have an interest in continuing to develop the partnership through HLF funding opportunities over the next four years. Bristol Drugs Project participants plan to use skills gained during the project within their Haven, a reflective space. The project has allowed the further development of a community coppice area.



Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum