Westonbirt, The National Arboretum will be playing host to the Celebrating Our Oaks photography exhibition from Saturday 2 March to Sunday 31 March.

The exhibition was launched by Action Oak in partnership with the International Garden Photographer of the Year (IGPOTY), to celebrate the UK’s wonderful oak trees through photography and raise awareness of the Action Oak initiative.

Action Oak is a unique collaboration of partners including charities, governments, landowners and research institutions, dedicated to protecting oak trees for future generations.

The aim of the exhibition is to spread awareness of the mission of Action Oak and to raise funds to help research and conservation activities, as the UK oak is now facing a fight for survival.

Visitors to the National Arboretum in March will be able to enjoy 20 stunning photographs from the IGPOTY competition finalists and celebrities with a passion for oak trees.

Defra Biosecurity Minister Lord Gardiner said, “Action Oak has already made great progress in its mission to safeguard the future of the oak tree, and this exhibition is just another reminder as to why this work is so vital for our biodiversity and the beauty of our landscape.”

The oak tree forms an important part of the UK’s landscape and heritage. There are around 121 million oak trees in the UK woodland, and the UK has more ancient oak trees than all other EU countries combined. The oak is one of the UK’s most important trees for biodiversity, supporting around 2,200 species – more than any other native tree species! It also has played an important role in our history – 5,000 oaks were used in the construction of HMS victory (Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar) and around 660 tons of oak timber were used to build the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall.

However, today these iconic trees are under threat from pests and diseases such as oak processionary moth, acute oak decline, xylella, root-attacking species of honey fungus and powdery mildews.

A hardback book, titled ‘Celebrating Our Oaks’ and foreworded by Dame Judi Dench, is available to buy at the Westonbirt Arboretum shop. It features all of the winners of the photography competition plus exclusive contributions from celebrities including Joanna Lumley, Jon Snow and Alan Titchmarsh. The proceeds from the sale of the book will be directed towards funding research and monitoring, via Action Oak, to help protect our oaks and ensure their place in the UK landscape for future generations.

Work will include capturing the first detailed picture of the current health of oaks trees, helping to gain a greater understanding of how to preserve their iconic position in our landscape for generations to come.

The campaign contributes to the Government’s 25-year Environment Plan by helping to strengthen biosecurity and build resilience to protect oaks for future generations. It also builds on the £37 million the Government is already investing in tree and plant health research.

Visit the Westonbirt this March and view this wonderful exhibition in the stunning woodland setting of the National Arboretum. Entry to the exhibition is free after admission.

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