The Perthshire Conifer Conservation Programme (PCCP), previously called the iCONic Project, is helping to protect some of the world's most threatened conifers from extinction. We do this in partnership with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh by collecting seeds from trees threatened in their natural habitat and growing these seeds into young trees. Finally, we work with helpful local landowners and managers to plant them in safe havens in the public parks, forests, gardens and estates of Perthshire Big Tree Country, where they are carefully nurtured and their progress is frequently monitored.
The programme was launched in 2008 at Gleneagles Hotel.
There are 615 species of conifer in the world, 211 (34%) of which are threatened in their natural habitats to some degree, some seriously so. The most serious threats can include climate change, the spread of agriculture, pests and diseases, urban development, logging, dams, mining and wildfires.
Trees including conifers, whether familiar species like monkey puzzle and giant redwood, or more rare, less well-known ones like Fitzroya, are are vitally important to people's livelihoods around the world, for many reasons. They provide timber, fuel, food and shelter for livestock; they stabilise soils, help regulate water and flooding, and store carbon; they provide valuable habitat for many other key species, including birds, bats, spiders, insects, lichens and fungi; they enhance the landscape and places we live and work, and are vital to our physical health and mental well-being.
With the world’s forests under unprecedented threat, ex-situ conservation - safeguarding species and their unique genetic material in dedicated collections away from their natural habitat - is an important part of any sound conservation strategy. Perthshire is one of the best places in the UK and Ireland to grow many of the world’s threatened conifer species.
The project is a partnership between PKCT, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and Scottish Forestry.
Through RBGE’s International Conifer Conservation Programme, under strictly controlled licence arrangements, staff collect seeds of threatened conifer species from all over the world. These seeds are then potted up, grown on, and pathogen-tested at RBGE's nursery before being planted as young trees on a range of safe sites in Perthshire.
These PCCP trees are not just helping to regenerate Perthshire's public parks, gardens, designed landscapes and forests, they are a vital contribution to internationally important efforts to save some of the world’s most threatened trees.
Almost 1,500 trees of over 80 different species have been planted through the programme so far with plans to do more on suitable sites as seeds become available. With their locations accurately mapped, the growth and health of these trees is closely monitored and recorded. The data collected inform ongoing conifer conservation research.
The project focuses on 'red data list' species recognised by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as being threatened in their native habitat. One day it is hoped that material from our special trees growing in Perthshire can be returned to the countries from which they came to regenerate very carefully those original depleted native forests for the people and other species that rely on them.
Find out about what happens behind the scenes from seed collecting to tree planting.
Read about the Perthshire Conifer Conservation Programme's expeditions to collect seeds from and help conserve some of the world's most threatened conifer species in their native countries.
Read about how Perthshire's tree history was shaped by 'plant hunters' working for landowners to bring new and exotic species of trees and plants to Perthshire.