WINNING a national award this week has encouraged Oxford University’s Harcourt Arboretum to continue spreading its roots across the world.

The vast tree collection and botanic gardens near Nuneham Courtenay has become the second garden in the UK, and the first ever university collection, to receive ‘Level IV’ status.

The rating is the highest available and has only been granted to a select few in the world, based on their contribution to science and conservation work.

In recent years the Oxford team has been partnered with the Wondo Genet College Arboretum in Ethiopia, which is currently rated Level 1, to establish and maintain their collections of endangered trees. The award is partly in recognition of their work together.

Curator Ben Jones said: “We are delighted to have received this rare accreditation. It will provide a boost to our work with partner institutions, locally, nationally and internationally.

“We are going to support the Ethiopian arboretum to get to Level II. It is really important; apart from the transfer of knowledge it gives us the opportunity to communicate some really important ideas. And it will help us raise the profile of Harcourt Arboretum.”