About BIFoR

The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) aims to provide fundamental science, social science and cultural research of direct relevance to forested landscapes anywhere in the world. We make the evidence-based case for forests as part of one-planet living. 

Inside a forest FACE facility - one of the largest climate-change experiments in the world

 

BIFoR was formed in 2014 as a direct result of a £15 million philanthropic donation that was match-funded by the University.   We are a virtual institute of over 100 academics, primarily from the schools of Geography Earth and Environmental Sciences and Biosciences but also including members from Mathematics, Engineering, the Business School, International Development, Psychology, English, and elsewhere.

We have now organised our research in four key themes:
1. Climate - The impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands
2. Health - The resilience of trees to invasive pests and diseases
3. Global - big data approaches across space and deep time
4. Interdisciplinary - Understanding the wider importance of trees and forests to human and non-human actors

Our key research infrastructure facilities are:
1. The BIFoR Free Air Carbon Dioxide (FACE) facility, the only such facility in the northern hemisphere.  BIFoR FACE has placed scientists at Birmingham in a globally unique position to investigate the impact of climate change on trees.
2. The Wolfson Advanced Glasshouses, offering state-of-the-art facilities for accelerating research into a wide range of areas including food security, sustainability and climate change and providing a fully controlled experimental environment on campus. 


Naturally, engaging people with our research is important to us. We organise an annual meeting - an opportunity to disseminate early results and receive feedback from research and practitioner communities) and have also been involved in organising many other conferences for example the Trees for the Future conference (Nov ember 2021), Treescapes 2021 (July 2021) and Thinking Higher (2019). 

Equally, education is important to us. We have our own Doctoral Training Scholarship, Forest Edge, which is enabling the training of 18 doctoral students. We also offer the opportunity for university students to engage with our research through offering primary data collection opportunities and /or secondary data / samples for dissertation topics and the chance to volunteer with us. BIFoR research is also integrated into teaching, and we are exciting about two new courses (MSci Human Sciences and MSci Global Environmental Change and Sustainability). 

We see the value in engaging with the future generation of practitioners and researchers and as such, we are investing time and financial resource into developing online resources for schools, colleges and universities as well as wider stakeholder groups. Our virtual tour of the BIFoR FACE facility has proven to be a hit in particular with teachers and school students and has received over 40,000 visitors.  

The University of Birmingham 'Birmingham in Action' features BIFoR heavily in its focus on climate and environmental resilience. BIFoR exists because of far-sighted philanthropy, and philanthropy continues to make a huge difference to what BIFoR can deliver.

Read more about BIFoR in 2021, in our Annual Report. We also have a bi-annual newsletter and are active on social media via Twitter (@BIFoRUoB) and Instagram (/biforuob).  We have our own YouTube playlist featuring mainly videos from the BIFoR FACE facility - including many videos of how this large infrastructure was installed into the forest by helicopter! 

BIFoR gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the JABBS Foundation, John Horseman Trust, John and Lorna Powell, the Wolfson Foundation, the Leverhulme Trust, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), NSF, the Ecological Continuity Trust and of course the University of Birmingham. 

We gratefully acknowledge the support of our BIFoR Advisory Group members who help advise us on overall strategy for BIFoR, research activity and priorities.