The ‘Arboreal Ark’ concept
As the nuclear arms races escalated in the mid-20th century, Douglas Cook envisioned his botanic collections at Eastwoodhill as a safe haven for northern hemisphere species threatened by the possibility of war. The arboretum’s remote location served as an arboreal ark for these species, a place to propagate new plants that might restore species should they be lost in their native eco-system.
Today, threats faced by forest tree species – particularly those in developed areas of the northern hemisphere with climatic conditions similar to Eastwoodhill are varied and difficult to combat. Already, all over the world, forest ecosystems have been changed dramatically as keystone species are threatened or lost.
There is a distinct need for repositories of species for study and protection. Eastwoodhill is rare among the world’s botanic and arboreal institutions in its ability to host plants from the northern hemisphere in relative isolation. This unique characteristic combined with New Zealand’s stringent biosecurity regulations, makes the arboretum an ideal environment for the cultivation of threatened species.