Tom Christain Photo

Perthshire’s Conifer Conservation Programme (PCCP) and National Tree Collections of Scotland (NTCS) Project Officer Tom Christian has been inducted into an international conifer conservation group.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC) is a science-based network of more than 10,000 volunteer experts working together in more than 130 Specialist Groups, Red List Authorities and Task Forces. Some groups address conservation issues related to particular groups of plants, fungi or animals while others focus on broader issues such as reintroduction of species into former habitats, climate change, wildlife health and sustainable use and trade.

Comprising 40 members worldwide, the IUCN SSC Conifer Specialist Group is chaired by Martin Gardner MBE and coordinated by Philip Thomas, both of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh (RBGE) and with whom Tom works on the International Conifer Conservation Programme.

Through collaborative work on the Perthshire Conifer Conservation Programme, Tom has been able to travel widely to study threatened conifer species in their natural habitats while making conservation seed collections, working with colleagues who he will now join on the Conifer Specialist Group in countries such as Morocco, Lebanon, China and Japan.

Over one third of the world’s c. 650 conifer species are classified by IUCN as being at risk of extinction in the wild. This list includes many species very familiar in parks and gardens throughout the UK, such as giant redwood, monkey puzzle and cedar of Lebanon.

The PCCP is helping to address this problem by cultivating conservation collections of conifers in carefully selected sites throughout Perthshire Big Tree Country. To date, nearly one thousand young trees have been planted, which makes a significant contribution to the global effort to conserve conifers.