As a result of a visionary 15 million pound donation the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research has been set up to provide a step-change in our understanding how our forests will respond to future increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2 ), including effects on forest growth and agricultural pests and diseases. We are 3 years into a world leading ‘big science’ Free-Air Carbon Enrichment (FACE) Facility.
In the video above, Professor Rob MacKenzie, Director of BIFoR, describes the focus of the institute's work and the importance of understanding how forests work.
Why a new UK research institute for Forests?
The natural world, its biodiversity, and its constituent ecosystems are critically important to our wellbeing and economic prosperity. Trees and forests are a key link in the ecological chain that permits life to flourish on Earth. Forests are critical components of global carbon, nutrient and water cycles, influencing the thermal balance of the planet directly and indirectly, and are home to more than half of all known species. Forests deliver direct economic, environmental and social benefits, ranging from fuel and building materials, to the sense of well-being associated with a walk in the woods.
As human populations have expanded, increasing pressures have been placed on forests, with the 20th century witnessing the steepest rise in rates of deforestation. The UK has the lowest woodland cover of any large European country, and what remains is under serious threat from climate change and imported tree diseases – e.g. ‘ash dieback’ (responsible for the loss of 60-90% of ash trees in Denmark) and now identified at 600 sites in the UK.
Our forest industries struggle to compete effectively with imports, which now constitute 70-80% of our timber use, and our level of skills in forest management is on the decline just when a leap to sustainable stewardship of our landscape is urgently required.
The University of Birmingham wants to use this unique opportunity to ensure BIFoR is a research institute that is truly interdisciplinary. BIFoR will therefore integrate research and education in forests with our global strengths in related areas:
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BIFoR Annual Report 2018
BIFoR Annual Report 2017 (PDF 4 Mb)
BIFoR annual report - 2016 (PDF 4Mb)
BIFoR Annual Report - 2015 (PDF 3Mb)