The Chilean Hillside, Benmore

Network of Safe Sites

The International Conifer Conservation Programme has developed a network of ‘safe sites’ most of which are located in the British Isles (see Map below). The Programme works with over 200 sites where 15000 individual conifers representing 155 conifer taxa, 95 of which are threatened. Sourcing the plants is carried out in collaboration with in-country partners and conducted in a manner that is careful to ensure wild populations are not placed at additional risk.

Who do we work with

The ex situ conservation sites mainly consist of private landowners, but also take in public gardens, golf courses and in one case a monastery (Glenstall Abbey in Ireland). Although the Programme works with botanic gardens, it is often the case that space is at a premium; hence in such sites only small numbers of conifers have been used. The exception being the Benmore Botanic Garden (one of three regional gardens of the RBGE) which extends to 49 hectares and has one of the biggest collections of species conifers in the world. The main criteria used for adopting ‘safe sites’ is that they should have a degree of longevity of future tenure together with a high standard of horticultural expertise to manage the trees. Our preference is to work with sites which have sufficinet space to allow the planting of large breeding populations. Working in collaboartion with the Perthishire Conifer Conservation Programme (PCCP) and the National Tree Collection of Scotland (NTCS) in partnership with Forestry Commission Scotland and the Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust, this has given access to some relatively large areas of forestry land whereby large numbers of conifers have been planted.

Network of Safe Sites
Network of Safe Sites.
Table: Details of some of the threatened conifer species in the ICCP network of ‘Safe Sites’.

Abies cilicica subsp. cilicica

Origin: Turkey

Number of sites: 31

Number of genotypes: 133

Abies pinsapo var. marocana

Origin: Morocco

Number of sites: 16

Number of genotypes: 430

Araucaria araucana

Origin: Argentina and Chile

Number of sites: 46

Number of genotypes: 142

Cedrus atlantica

Origin: Morocco

Number of sites: 22

Number of genotypes: 380

Cedrus libani

Origin: Lebanon

Number of sites: 50

Number of genotypes: 336

Fitzroya cupressoides

Origin: Chile

Number of sites: 71

Number of genotypes: 103

Number of plants: 415

Picea omorika

Origin: Bosnia, Herzegovina and Serbia

Number of sites: 640

Number of genotypes: 1100

Pilgerodendron uviferum

Origin: Chile

Number of sites: 44

Number of genotypes: 155

Number of plants: 270

Podocarpus salignus

Origin: Chile

Number of sites: 62

Number of genotypes: 670

Prumnopitys andina

Origin: Chile

Number of sites: 78

Number of genotypes: 425

Number of plants: 720

Taiwania cryptomerioides

Origin: Taiwan

Number of sites: 32

Number of genotypes: 247

Xanthocyparis vietnamensis

Origin: China

Number of sites: 31

Number of genotypes: 104