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Researcher installs a dendrometer band around a tree

Called BIFoR-in-a-Box, the project was designed by researchers at the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR). Schools can apply for kits containing equipment to fit a dendrometer to a tree and then monitor it over a number of months and years to gather data on how the tree is growing.

It is designed to contribute to the national curriculum, enhancing students’ understanding of a range of environmental processes, including how trees absorb and store carbon, how trees take up water and the effects of climate change.

Students will also be able to upload their data to the BIFoR team, who will use it to build up information on tree health and behaviour over a broad geographical area. Students will be able to see how their trees compare with other schools in the Midlands, the UK and even on our campus in Dubai.

Our aim is to inspire the next generation of plant scientists by inviting them to contribute to a real, large-scale experiment that will help answer some important questions about trees and the influences of pollution and of climate change.

Dr Samantha Dobbie, Birmingham Institute of Forest Research

Jeremy Pritchard, Professor of Life Sciences Education at the University of Birmingham, said: “We’re really excited to be working with school students and creating a community of citizen scientists monitoring tree growth over time.”

Project lead, Dr Samantha Dobbie added: “Our aim is to inspire the next generation of plant scientists by inviting them to contribute to a real, large-scale experiment that will help answer some important questions about trees and the influences of pollution and of climate change.”

The project will also feed into one of the world’s largest forest experiments. At BIFoR FACE University of Birmingham scientists are pumping carbon dioxide into trees in a Staffordshire woodland to simulate the atmosphere we’re predicted to have in 2050. Scientists are studying the effects of this atmosphere – not only on tree growth, but on carbon storage, water cycle function and the effects of pests and diseases on the trees.

More information about how to get involved with the project can be found on the BIFoR web pages, along with a film describing the project.