The Duchess of Cornwall will officially open the Westonbirt Arboretum’s new Welcome Building on Monday.
She will also propagate a tree sampling to mark its completion.
The new £1.4m Welcome building will include improved visitor facilities as well as a new Christopher Mitchell Information Centre where visitors can learn more about the arboretum’s history and how the world-class collection of trees are cared for by the Forestry Commission.
There will be an opening performance by Cirque Bijou, specially choreographed to celebrate the opening of the new Welcome Building while looking forward to the second phase of the development which includes the construction of a 300m Treetop Walkway.
The new Welcome Building will provide a ‘launch pad’ for visitors arriving at the arboretum.
From there, they can choose to follow the picturesque routes carefully laid out by the arboretum’s Victorian creator Robert Holford in the mid-19th Century.
The day also marks the launch of the second phase of Westonbirt’s plans which will see a new Treetop Walkway built to transport visitors up into the tree canopy, giving them a different perspective on the tree collection.
From this elevated viewpoint they will be able to see the trees close up, look at wildlife habitats and enjoy views of the wider landscape. The Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum are launching a £1.9m fundraising campaign at the opening, with only £600k left to raise.
True to the ethos of the Forestry Commission, the building, acclaimed for its sustainable design, has been constructed from UK-grown Douglas fir and western red cedar timber, with its floor constructed in pennant stone from the Forest of Dean.
The £4.3m Westonbirt Project, which also includes restoring the Grade 1 registered downland and activities plans, has been funded by the Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum, the Forestry Commission, a £1.9m grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund, a £500,000 Biffa Award and gifts from foundations, trusts and generous individual givers.