The iCONic Project set off on a major seed collection expedition to Chile at the start of 2013. The expidition led by conifer experts Tom Christian and Martin Gardener worked with Canezza 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 these conifer populations.

The priority for this trip was to collect seed from the threatened Chilean plum yew (Prumnopitys andina) from a valley which was due to be flooded in 2015 as part of a hydro-electric scheme.

Other threatened conifers targeted in the expedition include the ‘Ciprés de las Guaitecas’ (Pilgerodendron uviferum), a small-growing conifer when planted in Scotland, and the Alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides), which can reach a towering 50 m in height in the wild and live for over 3,000 years. However, the Alerce's wide trunk and good timber have made it a target for loggers and it has suffered significantly from deforestation.

Other species that were facing environmental threats were also collected and brought back to the botanical gardens in Edinburgh, where they went into quarantine to be cared for by an expert team of horticulturists.

The seedlings and young plants were destined for a range of carefully selected sites within Perthshire and will act as a valuable conservation collection that Chile can draw on to help restore its native populations in future years.