Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
Institution Code: WESB
BGCI Member: Yes
ArbNet Accredited: Level IV
About the Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
TAXA 2776 (297 genera, 1,860 spp., 15,013 plants)
Westonbirt, The National Arboretum
Gloucestershire GL8 8QS United Kingdom
Telephone: 0300 067 4890
Primary Email: email@example.com
The aim of Hidden Voices was to engage with communities that do not visit Westonbirt, using a collaborative approach to enable the development of shared understanding of trees and what they mean to society.
Project start date: Feb 2012
Project end date: Oct 2012
Coppicing Laurel with volunteers.
Using a collaborative approach to planning and developing activities with the community groups involved, the aim was to develop more sustained relationships and give staff and volunteers greater confidence.
The project was designed to facilitate learning about developing collaborative community projects and, through this, deepen understanding of different audiences and reinforce relationships with these groups.
For the groups themselves the project was designed to allow them ease of access to botanic gardens, promote creativity and raise their awareness of; the role of trees in their lives, the importance of trees globally and issues surrounding sustainable woodland management. Funding for transport to reduce the cost of visits was also a fundamental part of the project. Each group visited monthly for, six months followed by a final celebration.
A rainy trailer ride around the arboretum.
The following community partners were selected:
• Bristol Drugs Project; working with disadvantaged adults - an independent agency that works with drug users, their relatives and friends to reduce drug and alcohol-related harm.
• Awaz Utaoh; working with communities from different ethnicities - works within Bristol’s South Asian communities to tackle issues such as community segregation and isolation.
• Stroud Macular Disease Society; working with older people at risk of exclusion - provides support to anyone who has lost any degree of central vision through Macular Disease.
Project activities included:
• Guided activity walks and craft activities exploring:
- Trees that feed us – food tasting and creation of tree foods recipe book
- Trees that clothe us – tree fibres and plant tie dying
- Trees that entertain us – creative writing, paper making, book making
• Practical woodland management tasks including:
- Laurel coppicing
- Green woodwork
The project delivered 21 group visits by a total of approximately 112 individuals. It has facilitated a huge amount of learning about the specific needs of different audiences and the process of managing community projects.
The variety of practical conservation tasks support Westonbirt’s ongoing care and management. The Guided activity walks lead to the creation of an audio trail for visually impaired visitors, based on trees selected by the group for their sensory exploration and interesting stories. Other creative outputs are shared with visitors, this includes a recipe book and a photography exhibition.
Perspectives photography exhibition.
All three organisations are visiting again this year and have an interest in continuing to develop the partnership through HLF funding opportunities over the next four years. Bristol Drugs Project participants plan to use skills gained during the project within their Haven, a reflective space. The project has allowed the further development of a community coppice area.
Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum