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BNPS.co.uk (01202 5588330<br />
Pic: BedgeburyNational/BNPS<br />
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The team in Japan collecting seeds from the Japanese Birch.<br />
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British horticulturists are celebrating after helping to save one of the world's most critically endangered trees from extinction.<br />
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The Japanese birch is so rare that only 21 trees are recorded as growing in the wild, but conservationists at the Forestry Commission's Bedgebury National Pinetum in Kent have now successfully germinated seeds.<br />
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The tree only grows in one remote area in the mountains near Chichibu, north west of Tokyo, and a British expedition team travelled there last year to collect the precious seeds.<br />
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The team of three, led by two local expert forestry guides, hiked for hours along narrow ledges with sheer drops either side to get to the secluded spot.<br />
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They were able to gather about 1,000 seeds using long-handled pole cutters from which the team at Bedgebury have now produced about 100 seedlings.