What is Local Origin and why is it important?

Autumn leaf against skyWhat is ‘Local Origin’?
Many of the trees planted in the UK are grown overseas in places such as Eastern Europe. Not only will these trees have to be transported many hundreds of miles before they are planted, increasing their ‘carbon footprint’, but they will be also genetically different from the trees which have naturally grown in the areas they are being taken to. These trees, which have either grown naturally or been planted from seeds collected from local woodlands, are described as being of ‘local provenance’.

In mediaeval times, acorns were used as packing material in crates and boxes used to transport goods. These acorns were often discarded when the crates arrived at their destination. These crates may have been transported many miles, even from mainland Europe or beyond. Depending on where they were discarded, some of the acorns may have germinated and grown into mature oaks, whose descendants still survive today.

But just because a tree has been found growing locally, it does not mean it is native. In the same way that some families can trace their ancestors back many centuries to other countries, some of these native trees will be descendants of trees planted from seeds brought in from abroad or other parts of the UK.

However, many of our woodlands can be traced back centuries. The trees that grow in these ancient woodlands are descended from those that have lived in our woodlands for centuries and are described as being of ‘local origin’. Where this ancient heritage can be proven, woodlands can be registered with the Forestry Commission as being an indigenous seed source.

Why is ‘Local Origin’ important?
1. To help to co-ordinate the collection of large quantities of local origin seed from sites researched by the Initiative.
2. To encourage commercial nurseries to grow on seed sourced from Natural Areas within the East Midlands as local origin stock, so that sufficient quantities are available for planting schemes within the region.
3. To promote and encourage the use of local origin stock in planting projects across the East Midlands.
4. To facilitate the registration of identified sources of local origin seed as ‘Indigenous’ under the Forestry Commission’s 2002 Forest Reproductive Material (FRM) Regulations.

How the Initiative can help you?