MSP backs Arran whitebeam conservation

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Maurice Golden MSP has pledged to help conserve the rare Arran whitebeam after a visit to the Royal Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh (RBGE) where he learned of the work being undertaken to help preserve the endangered species.

The Conservative West Scotland region MSP was joined by members of Woodland Trust Scotland to discuss the Arran whitebeam with horticulturalists from the botanic gardens. As a champion for the species he works to raise awareness of Scotland’s most threatened native tree in the Scottish Parliament.

Arran whitebeams are unique to Arran and have formed through hybridisation of the rowan tree and the rock whitebeam. Scottish Natural Heritage and RGBE are researching how to conserve the species – which has fewer than 900 individuals – in order to better understand the trees and learn why they are under threat before extensive planting can be undertaken.

David Knott, curator of the living collection at RBGE said: ‘The Isle of Arran is home to three species of tree found nowhere else in the world, the Arran whitebeam, the Arran service tree and the Catacol whitebeam.

‘Staff from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, working in partnership with staff from Scottish Natural Heritage and the landowner, have been actively involved in the conservation of these, Scotland’s rarest trees to deliver the Scottish Government’s environmental objectives by promoting the natural regeneration of the trees through on site management and by safeguarding them in cultivation.’

While discussing the importance of the RBGE and the work that they do, Maurice said: ‘Nature conservation is very important for biodiversity and in turn for healthy ecosystems. There is still a lot of research to be done related to Arran whitebeams and I will help support this in any way I can. Our hosts at RBGE were fantastic and I am already looking forward to my next visit.’

The Arran whitebeams are by the east gate entrance at the botanical gardens. On Arran you can find whitebeams in Glen Diomhan off Glen Catacol, and in the northern half of the island.