Jan 4 2013 by Iain Howie, Perthshire Advertiser
Endangered trees in Chile could be given a helping hand here in Perthshire thanks to conservation efforts.
The Edinburgh-based Internationally threatened Conifers In our Care (Iconic) Project is to attempt to source seeds from sites in the South American country and go on to nurture them at specially-selected sites in the Big County.
This is in an effort to protect them for future generations with a plan to restore those lost by environmental change.
The Chilean plum yew is among species which stand to have their areas flooded in a hydro-electric scheme, or suffering from other environmental changes.
The seeds will be quarantined by horticulturalists at the Royal Botanic Garden in the capital. The project is being led by Tom Christian and Martin Gardner, an expert in conifer conservation from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.
They are to work alongside Vanezza Morales from the University of Santiago in Chile to look at developing ways of working with local people to secure the long-term conservation of the country’s conifers.
Tom Christian said: “Plans for this expedition have been in the pipeline for some time and this will be an important milestone for the Iconic Project.
“We will also be collecting seeds and cuttings from other species which are facing other environmental threats, before couriering them back to Edinburgh where they will be placed into quarantine by an expert team of horticulturists at RBGE.”
The team will visit the valley of San Fabian Alico - the trees there are part of a northern group of conifer populations that are genetically distinct, and several have already been lost due to similar valleys being flooded for modern hydro-electric schemes within Chile.
Martin Gardner said: “One species sadly is highly threatened through hydro-electric schemes. It tends to grow in valleys, by rivers, and is very vulnerable to these new hydro-electric schemes.
“One valley which is going to be flooded in the next couple of years is going to destroy about 200 old growth trees. The idea for that that species is that we’re going to collect seeds and cuttings and send that material back to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh.”
Groups such the Hilton Hotel in Dunkeld already work with the project and last year Iconic also set out its plans to replace blown down trees on Dunkeld House Estate.