The Woodlands Horticultural Unit is located at North Staney Hill, Lerwick and includes a glasshouse, cold frames, three Polycrubs and three outdoor enclosures with raised beds to harden the saplings.
Since 2022, the tree nursery is fully accredited, which includes FRM and Plant passport registration, ensuring we are compliant on biosecurity and traceability. In addition, we are part of the UK and Ireland Sourced and Grown Assurance Scheme from The Woodland Trust, proving that our sapling are locally sourced and grown, and that the tree nursery is up to UK standards.
The expansion work undertaken in 2022 and 2023 permitted to raise our carrying capacity to 45,000 saplings. This work would not have been possible without the grant funding from the Viking Benefit Fund (£10,440), Forestry Grant Scheme (£9,500) and the Woodland Trust (£5,000)..
The team collect seeds across Shetland to then propagate them into healthy saplings. This ensure all trees are sourced locally, reducing biosecurity issues and providing stock with higher establishment rate. While trees of local origin are rare due to a very low number of true Shetland trees, seeds collected are from stock that have been planted in Shetland in the last three decades, from origin of similar climate, supporting local adaptation and enriching genetic diversity.
Our trees are supplied to woodland creation schemes locally, but some will be given to schools and community group through the Free Tree Pack, organised by the Woodland Trust. In addition, the tree production and our tree conservation work support conservation project such as native woodland restoration which require local tree stock and relict tree propagation, to ensure local genetic diversity is well supported and our heritage is safe.
In 2023, a relict willow cutting bed has been created to plant clones of Shetland relict willow. This project was funded by Future Woodlands Scotland and will ensure the genetic of the relicts is safeguarded. In addition, it gives the woodlands team easy access to relict growing material to propagate them, replant them in the wild, and create a better habitat to the relict willows we can still find in the wild. This project also looked at the current situation of the relict willow genetic diversity and hope to highlight conservation and protection needed to ensure a safer future for them. To learn more, please visit the Current Projects and Conservation tabs.
In addition to the tree propagation work, the Horticultural unit propagate oyster plant and hold a stock of all 18 hawkweeds endemic to Shetland, one of which has been successfully reintroduced to the wild after becoming extinct. This propagation work is essential for conservation projects such as Species on the Edge.