What we do

The Perthshire Big Tree Country (PBTC) Conifer Conservation Programme (previously called the iCONic Project) restores Perthshire's Victorian designed landscapes and protects some of the world's most threatened conifers from extinction.  We do this by collecting seeds from trees threatend in the wild, growing these seeds into young trees and creating safe-havens for the young trees in the forests, gardens and estates of Perthshire Big Tree Country.

Why we do it

At the start of the Victorian era just 2% of Perthshire was covered in forest, but this all changed when the landowners of the time discovered a passion for planting trees.  This passion was fuelled by ‘Plant Hunters’ - bold adventurers that travelled all over the world to bring back new and exotic species of trees and plants to embellish the estates of their employers.  Many of Perthshire’s most spectacular trees, such as the huge Giant Redwood which grows in the gardens of Cluny House, were planted at this time.

This amazing era of planting ended with the start of World War One. Many of the gardeners that had cared for these wonders lost their lives in the war and things changed forever.  Many of the beautiful forest gardens and tree collections were neglected as there was no one left to care for them and many trees were lost to storms and old age.

But in 2010 we began changing this by forming the PBTC Conifer Conservation Programme and getting the planting the next generation of Big Trees underway. 

How it works

The PBTC Conifer Conservation Programme is a partnership between PKCT, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and Scottish Forestry.

Through RBGE’s International Conifer Conservation Programme, PKCT’s Tree Officer collects seeds from rare and endangered conifer species from all over the temperate world.  These seeds are then grown into small trees at the RBGE Nursery before being planted out in safe havens in the woodlands and estates of Perthshire. 

The trees planted through the PBTC Conifer Conservation Programme are not just helping to regenerate the forest gardens of Perthshire, they are also contributing to an internationally important effort to save some of the world’s most threatened trees. 

To date, over 800 trees have been planted, and the plan is to have planted 2,000 by 2018. Their performance will be closely monitored and the data we collect will to aid ongoing research into conifer conservation.  All the species on which the project is focussing are recognised by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) as being threatened in their native habitat.

One day it is hoped that seeds from the trees growing in Perthshire can be returned to the countries from which they came to regenerate the native forests there.