Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, part of the Forestry Commission England, in Kent has sent the first seedlings of Mulanje cedar raised in the UK to be cared for by the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Bedgebury National Pinetum’s Mulanje cedar seedlings are off to a permanent home in a Mediterranean biome where they have the best chance of long term survival. The Mulanje cedar, the national tree of Malawi, is probably ‘extinct in the wild’.

Dan Luscombe, Collections Mananger at Bedgebury National Pinetum said “Fantastic progress has been made in support of the Mulanje Cedar project. Mature cedars can live for hundreds of years so it’s early days and there’s plenty more to be done securing a future for this enigmatic tree species.”

Seedlings from Mulanje cedar (Widdringtoni whytei) seeds collected during Dan Luscombe’s trips to Malawi have made the next important step in their journey to help save this cedar from extinction. The Eden Project has extended a helping hand by making space in their collection. This is an example of how the collaborative work of the Botanic Gardens Conservation International (BGCI) brings species back from the brink of complete extinction.

The Mulanje cedar is classified as “critically endangered” by the IUCN Red List of Threatened species with a decreasing population trend. In January 2017 a 2 week survey at the top of Mulanje Mountain to assess the scale of destruction identified just seven mature individual trees. The Eden Project has taken the seedlings raised at Bedgebury’s world leading nursery for conifers in to their care. These trees will be supported to grow on at the Eden Project by a biome environment that will give the seedlings the best chance of surviving outside of their natural climate in Malawi.

Catherine Cutler, Biomes Manager at The Eden Project said: “Eden is delighted to be working alongside Bedgebury and BGCI members supporting the Mulanje cedar work, to prevent the extinction of such a special tree. The seedlings grown by the team at Bedgebury are beautiful and in excellent condition, both strong and healthy. We anticipate the trees will thrive in Eden’s climatically controlled Mediterranean biome, securing an ex-situ collection protected from detrimental weather, to ensure robust conservation of the species.”

Mulanje cedar is sought-after for its valuable timber. Worth around US$4,000 per cubic metre because of its durability, strength and resistance to termites, populations have been decimated because of illegal harvesting. Bedgebury’s work is not in isolation. The collaboration with BGCI also extends to the Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust (MMCT) and Forest Research Institute of Malawi (FRIM). They are co-ordinating the “Save our Cedar” project in Malawi and ten nurseries around the base of the Mulanje Mountain are growing seedlings too.


Notes to Editor

  1. The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Further information can be found at
  2. England's Woods and Forests are cared for by Forest Enterprise England, an agency of the Forestry Commission
  3. The Forestry Commission is marking its centenary in 2019 with an ambitious programme of public engagement across England’s forests.  The centenary year will include the largest ever survey of forest wildlife, projects to boost health and wellbeing, new artistic works and educational initiatives. It will see existing forests expanded, and commemorative avenues planted to celebrate 100 years of forestry. A major garden at RHS Chelsea Flower Show will visualise what forests of the future might look like, and the Royal Mail will celebrate the UK’s forest landscapes with a special stamp collection issued in August 2019. 

    While celebrating its first 100 years, the Forestry Commission is also looking ahead to the biggest challenges facing the nation’s forests. It will use the anniversary to explore these challenges – including climate change and plant health - and demonstrate what action is being taken to ensure our trees and landscapes are resilient for future generations to enjoy.  For more information visit: 
  4. Bedgebury National Pinetum & Forest is home to the National Conifer Collection. The 128-hectare (320-acre) site is recognised as one of the most significant collections of conifers on one site anywhere in the world. There are more than 12,000 trees, including threatened and historically important specimens. The Bedgebury team travel the world to collect seeds from rare species natural habitats for propagation and conservation, supported by the Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum. Bedgebury is a key partner in the Global Trees Campaign run by Fauna & Flora International and Botanic Gardens Conservation International. Bedgebury makes a major contribution to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation.
  5. More than 2000 tree and shrub seedlings are grown at Bedgebury every year, some of which are planted on site. Surplus seeds and plants are distributed to other botanic gardens and safe sites across the UK and Europe, and seeds are stored for long term conservation in the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place. Bedgebury works to conserve tree species identified in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  6. The Pinetum is open all year offering a beautiful setting for peaceful walks and picnics whether on a frosty morning or a sunny afternoon. Bedgebury Forest covers around 800 hectares (2000 acres) and enables people of all ages to enjoy activities such as adventure play, walking, cycling, mountain-biking, running, horse riding or a Go Ape high-ropes adventure trail. Events include arts, theatre and family activities inspired by the landscape and wildlife of the National Pinetum plus Forest Live concerts in summer.
  7. The Friends of Bedgebury Pinetum is a charity that supports research into, and the conservation of, all flora and fauna, and the sharing of related knowledge with the general public.  Friends’ events promote Bedgebury as a site for high quality, healthy recreation in a landscape of rare and endangered flora and fauna. The Friends fundraise for Bedgebury via membership subscriptions, sponsorship activities and donations. A donation of £1 is suggested for The Art of Trees outdoor exhibition magazine.
  8. The Bedgebury Visitor Centre serves both the National Pinetum and Forest. Visitors can learn more about Bedgebury’s conservation work in its atrium. The Bedgebury cafe provides a full range of hot and cold refreshments. There is also a cycle hire shop including adapted cycles and a bike wash area, an information office and a classroom/community room, toilets and showers.  |  01580 879820  |  Facebook: @BedgeburyPinetum  Twitter @BedgeburyP

Media Contact: Emma Bramley, Marketing and Communications Manager
Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest , Forest Enterprise England