Colleges in programme to research timber and forestry trees of the future

Three prominent land-based colleges have signed up to the Royal Forestry Society's (RFS's) Conifers for Colleges programme.

RFS education manager Phil Tanner - image:RFS
RFS education manager Phil Tanner - image:RFS

Plumpton College in East Sussex has joined Moulton College in Northamptonshire and Lancashire's Myerscough College in the programme, which will require each to plant trial plots of conifers starting this autumn, as well as involving forestry students in research into the trees.

The programme is motivated by the need to diversify the UK's forestry and timber industries in light of climate change and pests and disease threats.

Currently the "big five" coniferous timber species, Sitka spruce, Corsican pine, Scots pine, Douglas fir and larch, make up around 88 per cent of home-grown timber.

Each college's plot will include 400 conifers, both traditional and novel, as well as 100 broadleaf seedlings, and these will form the basis of a variety of research projects.

RFS Education Manager Phil Tanner said: "This information will be made freely available on the SilviFuture database so that woodland owners and managers will be able to see what trees might be compatible with their growing conditions.

"The project provides a unique opportunity for students to get first-hand knowledge of species about which many within the current forestry industry know very little, so they will be exceptionally well placed when they qualify to help ensure the UK's timber industry flourishes."

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