The Sustainable Seed Source Project (SSSP), which began in 2014, aims to secure and increase the supply of high-quality seed for a range of native and non-native species deemed to be important future timber sources. By ensuring the seed demand for commercially popular species is met, whilst promoting the use of so-called ‘emerging species’, the SSSP aims to improve the biodiversity and resilience of British woodlands in a changing climate. The project also provides opportunities for innovative foresters to capture niche markets with minor timber species.

Work on the SSSP has been conducted in three phases:

Phase 1

Selected seed stands of nine broadleaved species (ash, beech, oak (pedunculate, red and sessile), silver birch, small-leaved lime, sweet chestnut and sycamore) were visited to assess their suitability as a commercial seed source and to identify methods of increasing productivity and aiding seed collection. The need for selected stands of sweet chestnut and small-leaved lime was also highlighted.

Phase 2

A desk study funded by the Woodland Trust was conducted into the distribution, stand availability and timber demand of 16 species currently under-represented in British forestry but with significant future potential. The species were ranked in terms of priority with aspen, common alder, hornbeam, small-leaved lime and wild apple considered the highest.

Phase 3

As many of these species have few or no registered seed stands, potential new stands of small-leaved lime and hornbeam were identified in 2016 and 2017. After visiting 45 sites across England, 16 stands of small-leaved lime and 15 stands of hornbeam were recommended for registration.

We are about to begin selecting plus trees and initiating improvement programmes for six of these species: aspen, common alder, hornbeam, small-leaved lime, wild apple and wild service tree. If you are aware of any high-quality individuals or stands, we would be very interested to hear from you. Please email