How the Wolfson Glasshouses are helping fight climate change

The Wolfson Advanced Glasshouses
The Wolfson Advanced Glasshouses

The Wolfson Foundation and alumni are helping fight climate change and diseases affecting trees, which could affect our food supplies.

Thanks to a generous donation of £1M by the Wolfson Foundation, the new state-of-the-art Wolfson Advanced Glasshouses will accelerate research into food security, sustainability, climate change and more to help address this threat, complementing the outdoor woodland BIFoR FACE (The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research's Free-Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment) research in Staffordshire.

A world class facility for climate change research

The Wolfson Advanced Glasshouses provide a fully-controlled experimental environment for many types of plant and crop research. The Glasshouses will help to connect colleagues working biology, chemical sciences, ecology, water, atmospheric sciences and more. 

A laboratory area seamlessly links to a glasshouse zone with individual controlled environment compartments, to provide a fully contained facility capable of housing both herbaceous plants and trees. Each area will test what effect different temperatures, levels of CO2 etc will have on plants, so we can understand how to respond to and mitigate the effects. Another important area of work will be the study of plant pathogens, to find ways of stopping infection and disease spread.

Involving the community

One double-size compartment can, when not being used as preparation and analysis space for experiments, will be available to school and sixth form classes, University of Birmingham Artists in Residence, SME partners (such as hydroponic companies), BIFoR volunteers and undergraduate societies with an interest in environmental and conservation fields.

In addition, a Grade II listed cottage on site has been refurbished for outreach and public engagement activity, thanks to a generous gift from Birmingham graduates John and Lorna Powell. This facility supports an on-campus showcase of research including live data and visual feeds from the BIFoR FACE experiment in real time. The cottage also links to activities in Birmingham’s Green Heart and Winterbourne House and Gardens.


 Paul Ramsbottom, Wolfson Foundation

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation, says, 'High quality scientific research has a huge and varied role in helping us adapt to climate change, prevent biodiversity loss and ensure sustainable food production. We were impressed by the ambition of Birmingham’s researchers to rise to these challenges, and delighted to fund the glasshouses which will allow them to carry out vital experimental science for many years to come.'

The Wolfson Foundation is an independent, grant-making charity with a focus on research and education. Its aim is to support civil society by investing in excellent projects in science, health, heritage, humanities and the arts across the UK. Since it was established in 1955, some £1 billion (£2 billion in real terms) has been awarded to more than 14,000 projects throughout the UK, all on the basis of expert review.

Find out more about the Wolfson Foundation: @wolfsonfdn

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