Founded in 1991 at the Department of Plant Sciences of the University of Oxford, the British and Irish Hardwoods Trust (BIHIP) – now re-branded as Future Trees Trust – became a voluntary collaboration of many of Britain and Ireland’s foremost tree scientists and practitioners from all sectors of forestry.

Now, after 29 years, we have trial sites across Great Britain where we test material (either seeds or cuttings) from carefully selected superior parent trees of seven species. Our researchers monitor their development over many years. By careful selection and rigorous testing, they ensure that only the best progeny or cuttings produce seeds that we know will grow into excellent broadleaved trees that will contain sufficient diversity to be resilient to climate change.

But it’s not just about the science. We also lobby the British forestry industries and hope to create a fundamental culture change within that sector towards planting of improved trees. Already, our lobbying has resulted in the Forestry Commission in England recognising the need to change their seed-sourcing regulations to increase genetic variation, based on the work that our scientists performed.

Our members generally volunteer their time to support our work free of charge. We have only three full-time members of staff, so our overheads are minimal but our research costs money. The document Costs of Establishing Seed Orchards will provide you with an idea of the costs of creating one of around 30 test orchards we need to create to complete our work.