New "world-leading" institute will study environmental and disease pressure on trees

The University of Birmingham - image:Wikipedia Commons
The University of Birmingham - image:Wikipedia Commons

The University of Birmingham is to set up a new Institute for Forest Research to study the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands, and the resilience of trees to pests and diseases.

A £15 million gift from former academic and alumnus Professor Jo Bradwell and his wife Barbara, one of the largest gifts to a UK university, will fund what the university says will be "a unique, world-leading centre".

As well as on-campus laboratories, the new institute will run field facilities, enabling scientists to take measurements from within the soil to above the tree canopy, while autonomous sensors will provide measurements continuously and remotely.

The university is currently identifying a suitable forest location for the research.

Pro-vice-chancellor Professor Malcolm Press said: "The university is ideally placed to integrate research and education in forests and forestry with its global strengths in related areas such as microbiology, ecology, climatology, and sustainability science.

"We intend to attract the best scientists who can work with us to make this centre the best in the world."

Vice-chancellor Professor David Eastwood added: "Philanthropic gifts like this have become vital for universities, increasing their ability and agility to tackle global challenges."

Further support has come from the university's Circles of Influence campaign, which has raised £130 million for a range of projects.

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