A species native to northwest America Western red cedar was introduced into the UK along with other species from the area in the early 1800’s. Its use as a forestry species has been limited in the UK although its growth rates, frost hardiness and preference for wet humid conditions make it an ideal candidate for much of the west of the country that said its preference for richer soils has limited its use in the uplands. As a shade tolerant species it is often used in under plantings or as part of a continuous cover mix in more lowland sites.
As a durable red wood its timber is commonly used as cladding, decking and fencing.
There are 42 plus trees identified for this species in the UK and most of these are held in the only UK orchard at Clanna, Forest of dean. There are a number of select stands mainly in Scotland.
Work on the most suitable provenance for Britain has been limited and generally points to Vancouver sound sources as being most suitable for the UK climate. More recently regular harvests from both select seed stands and seed orchard material have been available. As with Douglas fir, there is a presumption that domestic landrace types should show a higher degree of adaptability to the UK climate and preferred over exotic seed orchard stock
Future Co-op work on this species is likely to evolve around selection of more plus trees, comparative trials to compare UK seed orchard (if available), UK seed stand and exotic seed orchard material across a range of sites in Britain. If resources allow and the species proves popular we may consider progeny testing to determine the genetic merits of the plus trees selected and established new ‘tested’ seed orchards containing only the very best parents.