Westonbirt Arboretum given £1.9m heritage lottery grant

A mother and child enjoy the Autumn colours at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire
Image caption,
TV presenter and environmentalist Chris Packham called Westonbirt Arboretum a "truly magical" place

Work to turn a national arboretum car park into a wildflower-rich grassland will begin next year.

The plan, which is part of a wider project at Westonbirt Arboretum in Gloucestershire, has received a £1.9m boost from the heritage lottery fund.

In phase one of the project, a Grade I listed landscape will be restored and a new car park and visitors centre built.

Later phases could include the creation of a tree walkway at the site, which receives 350,000 visitors per year.

Arboretum director Simon Toomer said: "This is a great step forward in realising our ambitious plans to raise the level of the arboretum's visitor and learning facilities to match that of its world class tree collection."

Some 16,000 trees populate the 243 hectares (600 acres) arboretum near Tetbury, featuring 2,500 different species from across the world.

Image caption,
The arboretum was established in the 1850s

News of the lottery grant was also welcomed by TV presenter and environmentalist Chris Packham who said that Westonbirt is a "truly magical" place.

He added: "I can't stress enough the importance of this particular arboretum - it's the natural world's equivalent of an outdoor museum and gives us a much greater understanding of the variety and value of trees."

The arboretum was established in the 1850s by wealthy landowner Robert Holford and later developed by his son, George Holford.

Its trees have been planted according to aesthetic appeal rather than scientific or geographical criteria.

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