Photo © Sylva Foundation
The British and Irish Hardwood Improvement Programme (BIHIP) was set up in 1991 to promote and improve the quality of home-grown hardwoods. BIHIP’s aims are to:
- Locate and secure material from the very best trees across Great Britain and Ireland
- To produce seedling and clonal orchards to provide high quality seed for the timber industry
- To carry our research in to the genetics and silviculture of trees that produce high quality timber
- To promote high quality timber production as a component of a sustainable forest industry.
BIHIP is a collaborative organization whose members have the above common aims. They come from research bodies (e.g. Forest Research, COFORD, and several Universities, commercial organizations such as forest nurseries and Coed Cymru, private woodland owners and some charities). BIHIP has no full time employees and no regular source of income.
BIHIP has enormous cause to be grateful to Woodland Heritage for the support, both real and moral, that they have so unstintingly given since their foundation in 1994. Many organisations have assisted BIHIP with financial contributions for their work, but none has been such a consistent supporter as Woodland Heritage, and in terms of cumulative contributions over the years, Woodland Heritage is our biggest contributor.
Since the first BIHIP sponsored seed orchard was planted in 1993 (on the Northmoor Trust’s land in Oxfordshire) we have established a total of about 30 seed orchards of the seven species we concentrate upon – birch, ash, cherry, oak, sweet chestnut, sycamore and walnut. Three of the species (birch, ash and cherry) that were among the earliest seed orchards are now producing seed themselves and we hope within a very few years to be able to provide enough of it to satisfy the UK demand.
This very impressive state has been achieved through the willing collaboration of scientists and others in the numerous organisations that make up the rather loosely formed organization that is BIHIP. They too provide a significant amount of the funding that is necessary for our work, but we could not achieve anything without charitable donations too. Woodland Heritage funding has supported the process of selection of “plus” trees over Great Britain and Ireland, the collection of both seed and scion material, the analysis of the results of trials, and the attendance of various scientists at international conferences on tree breeding.
Dr Peter Savill
Chairman of BIHIP
4 December 2009