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16/06/2021

“Welcome” news for Westonbirt Arboretum

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Fundraising for the £3.6 million Westonbirt Project reaches the half way point.

Fundraising for a new Welcome Building and a plan to restore the Grade I Registered landscape at Westonbirt, The National Arboretum has passed the £2 million mark, thanks to £1.8 million raised by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum and £500,000 of investment recently confirmed by the Forestry Commission.

Visual of the new Welcome Building exterior. Credit Imagemakers.

£2.3 million has now been raised towards the £3.6 million project, which aims to connect more of Westonbirt’s visitors with the arboretum’s trees and heritage. Fundraising is being led by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, a registered charity which supports the Forestry Commission at The National Arboretum.

The new Welcome Building will contain exciting displays about Westonbirt’s world class tree collection and history. It will also house dedicated ticketing, membership and information desks as well as a free mobility scooter hire point.

The Grade I Registered landscape will be restored by relocating the car park and replanting the rare grassland area currently under tarmac. The Forestry Commission investment will be used to build the new car park away from the historically important and environmentally sensitive downland. Work will start on the new car park in the next six months.

Brian Mahony, Director of Forest Enterprise England commented:

“The Westonbirt Project is such an exciting vision and the Forestry Commission is proud to be working with the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum to achieve it.

“I’m sure we all agree that the arboretum is a very special place and the plans will make a real and lasting difference to everybody’s visit.”

Stephen Segar, Chairman of the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum added:

“We are delighted with the level of support that our Friends, neighbours and visitors have shown for the Westonbirt Project.

“This is a real landmark in the fundraising campaign and thanks to the support so far, we are one step closer to seeing our dreams for Westonbirt’s future turn into reality.”

Historic, Victorian boundary features will be replaced or restored, and improvements to site layout and signage are also part of Westonbirt’s plans. Find out more about the project by visiting www.westonbirtproject.co.uk.

1. Westonbirt, The National Arboretum is managed by the Forestry Commission and is renowned worldwide for its tree and shrub collection. Home to five national collections, the arboretum covers 243 hectares (600 acres) and contains 16,000 labelled specimens. Visitor numbers are 350,000 a year, with a membership of over 28,000. Westonbirt Arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford and later developed by his son George Holford. Unlike many arboretums, Westonbirt is laid out according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria. Visit www.forestry.gov.uk/westonbirt.

2. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at www.forestry.gov.uk.

3. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum was formed in 1985. The charity’s objects are to support The National Arboretum in promoting public understanding of the crucial role of trees to the environment and society. It is funded by membership receipts from over 28,000 members, other fundraising, and the use of the Great Oak Hall for events and activities. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is a registered charity (no. 293190). More information at www.fowa.org.uk

4. A £3.6million fundraising campaign led by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum is currently underway for the Westonbirt Project. Phase One of the project aims to improve the visitor arrival and experience by building a new Welcome Building, relocating the car park and restoring the Grade I Registered landscape. Work on Phase One is planned to start in 2013, subject to funds being raised. More information can be found at www.westonbirtproject.co.uk.

Source: Westonbirt: The National Arboretum

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