Everyone involved in our industry over the past few years has seen many of our beloved conifers hit by successive rounds of disease and there have been increasing calls to consider our long term options. At Alba, we began to grow ‘alternative conifers’ so that we could provide plants for trials, but also find out more about how these species can be best grown on the nursery. Whilst foresters are looking at silviculture and sawmillers are looking at timber values, the nursery trade must look at growing these trees to an acceptably high quality standard at the lowest price, so Alba has been trialling many different growing methods to reduce the cost to the minimum possible which will allow industry to make an informed decision about the viability of each species.
In 2014, we were approached by the Royal Forestry Society to partner them in an exciting project concerning alternative conifers in an educational and research context. They presented the ‘Conifers for Colleges’ Project:
- Raise awareness for the value both commercially and socially of conifers in the UK.
- Provide forestry/arboriculture students with the opportunity to gain practical forestry learning opportunities.
- Provide colleges with a forestry based onsite learning and research facility.
- Research the potential of a range of new (novel) species for their value within the timber
Alba offered to donate alternative conifers to 5 Colleges, who would plant the trees within an agreed layout and monitor progress. Tubex also kindly agreed to donate tree shelters. The 5 Colleges were:
On 5 November 2014, the project was launched with the first planting at Moulton College and we wish it all the very best and hope that it contributes to the learning of our young foresters.