One of the new monkey puzzle trees planted in Tay Forest Park

A glen of iconic monkey puzzle trees has been planted in the Tay Forest Park in Perthshire as part of a global conservation effort.

The trees are part of the Perthshire Conifer Conservation Programme (PCCP) – a partnership project between the Perth & Kinross Countryside Trust, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) and various Perthshire landowners, including Forest Enterprise Scotland.The newly planted monkey puzzles were grown from seed collected in native forests like this one in Chile

The forty young monkey puzzles planted have all been grown from seed collected in Chile several years ago and were raised in the nurseries at RBGE. This new glen of trees is the latest to be planted in Perthshire to contribute to the conservation of conifers from around the world, which are threatened with extinction in their native habitats.

Due to fears that they could be targeted by tree-rustlers, the exact location of this new monkey puzzle glen in the park is being kept secret. Doug Howieson, Forest District Manager for Forest Enterprise Scotland in Tayside, explains:

“Very sadly some thieves targeted young Serbian spruce trees planted on Kinnoull Hill near Perth before Christmas, and they struck again earlier this spring. Monkey puzzle trees are still very popular in gardens and expensive to buy, so we want to keep the exact whereabouts of this new grove confidential until they are well established.”

Tom Christian, project officer for PCCP, explains more about the importance of these monkey puzzles and conservation:

“Over one third of the world’s 650 or so conifer species are facing extinction in their native habitats. This list includes trees that we are very familiar with here in Scotland, like the monkey puzzle from Chile and the giant redwood from California.

“Since 2008, the Perthshire Conifer Conservation Programme has planted hundreds of trees representing dozens of threatened species in designed landscapes and forests across Perthshire.

“Scotland has a long history of growing trees from all around the world here, so we know what will and won’t grow here as well as where and how we can make significant contributions to global tree conservation, like the ‘ex-situ’ work like we’re doing with these monkey puzzle tees.”

Some of the sites that support the work of PCCP and where young plantings of threatened species grow in some of Scotland’s most historic landscapes include the grounds of Dunkeld House Hotel, Blair Castle, Scone Palace, Gleneagles Hotel and Cluny House Gardens.