European recognition for Forest Research laboratory services

Laboratory services provided by the Forestry Commission's Forest Research agency have been recognised as being among the top performers in Europe for plant, water and soil analysis.

The laboratories have been ranked first for water analysis out of 40 European laboratories by ICP Forests, a European Union forestry programme. This ranking added to the laboratories' existing top rankings of first out of 31 for soil analysis, and first out of 59 for plant analysis.

Forest Research laboratories, based at Alice Holt Research Station near Farnham, Surrey, provide standard and specialist comparison tests for inorganic analysis of trees, other plants, soils and water. Tests on plant materials can provide important data on topics including:

* nutrient deficiency. The foliar analysis package offered by the laboratory includes recommendations for bespoke fertiliser prescription to improve tree nutrition;

* damage by de-icing salt;

* plant and land contamination; and

* phyto-remediation (where green plants and their associated micro-organisms are used to stabilise or reduce contamination in soils, sludges, sediments and surface or ground water).

François Bochereau, laboratory manager at Forest Research, welcomed the rankings, saying:

"We are delighted to have the quality of our work recognised in this way. We have more than 40 years' experience of supporting forestry-related research projects with plant analysis, and more than 20 years' experience in water analysis.

"We always run calibrated controls with certified reference material to maintain the quality of our data, and to assess any significant drift or change in sensitivity. This means that the resulting data is suitable for detailed research analysis and publication.

"Our services are used by research organisations and university research groups from across Europe, and our customers also include environmental consultants, forestry contractors and private woodland owners."

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