We were delighted to welcome Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on a visit to the College of Life and Environmental Sciences on Wednesday 11 April 2018, alongside Counsellor Robert Alden of Birmingham City Council.

The visit provided an opportunity to update the Secretary of State on the University’s Environmental Science research.  The discussion focussed upon the internationally unique Birmingham Institute for Forest Research (BIFoR) Free-Air Carbon Enrichment Facility, BIFoR-FACE, water sciences activity, and air quality research delivering local impact within Birmingham.

BIFOR-FACE is assessing the impact of raised carbon dioxide (CO2) levels on whole forest ecosystems by artificially raising the CO2 level around unperturbed patches of mature woodland.  BIFoR will help predict the resilience of UK forests under the CO2 conditions expected by 2050, a key aspect of their Natural Capital value within the Government’s new 25-year Environment Plan.

The team then presented the University’s work to provide guidance to local planners on the best uses of green infrastructure (e.g. city trees) to improve air quality, and recent work to measure real-world vehicle emissions in Birmingham, which will inform potential Clean Air Zone design, alongside our role in international air quality projects in China, India and Africa.

Michael Gove MP, with staff from the College, in front of a model of a BIFoR  Free-Air Carbon Enrichment facility tower


Michael Gove said: “It was fantastic to meet the Forest Research team at the University of Birmingham and see the great work they do. Big cities need the best air quality possible and the work going on at the University is both vital and impressive.  

“My thanks to the University of Birmingham for the invitation - I will be keeping a keen eye on the continued research in this area. It will not only help improve the UK’s air quality, but populations across the globe too.”