May 25, 2024

One of the world’s rarest tree is returned to historical home in Llangollen

A partnership has safeguarded an extremely rare tree found in Llangollen for future generations to enjoy.

Pupils from Ysgol Dinas Bran, Gwernant and Bryn Collen have been learning all about the Llangollen Whitebeam, a very rare tree which only exists at two locations in the world.

In 2017, a project ran in partnership between the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley National Landscape, Chester Zoo and Natural Resources Wales (NRW), commissioned a detailed survey to determine the population of this species, as well as to gauge their condition.

In total, only 315 of the trees were recorded, 307 were found at Creigiau Eglwyseg Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), with an additional eight trees in Shropshire.

Berries were also carefully collected and taken to Chester Zoo where skilled botanists cultivated the plants at the zoo for several years, by recreating the unique environment of Llangollen in a behind-the-scenes plant nursery.

Now, six years later, 20 of the rare trees have been replanted in several locations around Llangollen, including one at Dinas Bran this month. The reintroduction was supported by local school pupils from Ysgol Dinas Bran and volunteers.

Emlyn Jones, Head of Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services, said: “We are so fortunate to the rich diversity of wildlife found in Denbighshire and the Clwydian Range and Dee Valley National Landscape . To think that we hold almost the entire global population of just one species is remarkable and something to cherish.”

“Given the inaccessible places these trees grow, they are easily overlooked and many people are not aware as to the importance of this species.

“By planting them with school children, future generations will have a greater appreciation as to what is on our doorstep, and people will now be able to see and appreciate the Llangollen Whitebeam as it is planted in and around the town.”

Richard May, NRW Environment Officer, said: “We are very happy to have worked on this positive project with our partners at Clwydian Range and Dee Valley National Landscape and Chester Zoo.

“We now have an up-to-date survey of the endangered Llangollen Whitebeam and we understand more about the health of the population and what conservation management it requires.

“It’s amazing to think that this tree can only be found in two places in the world, and I’ll enjoy seeing these trees restored to Castell Dinas Bran.”

Richard Hewitt, Team Manager of the Nursery team at Chester Zoo, added: “Chester Zoo is well known for its species-saving work with a variety of animals, but many maybe unaware that we’re also dedicated to saving the world’s botanical treasures, too. Our team have dedicated more than six years to nurturing this species in our nursey, starting with a mere seed and growing them right through to these magnificent trees. It’s a great feeling to now see them go on to thrive in their historical home in North Wales.

“Without the help of this partnership, this special tree could have disappeared from our planet altogether.”

 

Editors Notes

About Chester Zoo

  • Chester Zoo (www.chesterzoo.org) is a world-leading conservation and education charity that’s committed to preventing extinction and dedicated to raising awareness of key conservation and environmental challenges.
  • The zoo’s 128-acre site in Chester, which is home to more than 37,000 animals and more than 500 species, is where this species-saving work is made possible.
  • As a not-for-profit, the zoo ploughs everything into its conservation mission, both here in the UK and around the world.
  • It works with more than 3,000 species globally, including 140 international animal conservation breeding programmes, which are ensuring the survival of species on the very brink of extinction. It’s also home to five national plant collections, comprising of more than 1,000 species.
  • Experts from the zoo are recognised by governments and NGOs across the world as leaders within the global conservation community. Currently, the zoo is saving species on behalf of the Bermudan, Spanish and Portuguese governments, among others.
  • The zoo works with over 100 partners in more than 20 countries to recover threatened wildlife and restore habitats, including orangutans in Bornean rainforests, elephants and tigers in Indian grasslands, lemurs and frogs in Malagasy forests, rare fish in Mexican lakes and a host of species here in the UK.
  • The zoo influences policy both in the UK and internationally, engaging with governments worldwide to take action to halt the biodiversity crisis.
  • It’s millions of annual visitors and huge online communities are part of the educational, scientific and conservation jigsaw, empowering them to be part of solutions for wildlife, creating a future where nature can survive and thrive.
  • Chester Zoo lives and breathes conservation – from its animal and plant care, to its scientific breakthroughs, to its policy work and its vital role in inspiring and educating people about the natural world and the impact humans have on it – creating and nurturing the conservationist in us all.