One of the key challenges BIFoR addresses is the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels in our air are rising, mostly due to our use of fossil fuels. As CO2 rises, so does the world’s temperature. Trees and the soil around them help us capture some of this CO2. Since 2017, in a giant experiment, called the BIFoR Free Air Carbon Dioxide Enrichment (FACE) Facility or BIFoR FACE for short, located in a Staffordshire woodland, we have been pumping CO2 around trees to simulate the atmosphere we’re predicted to have in 2050. This helps us see how the woodland responds – do the trees grow faster, locking away more carbon, or will changes in the soil and insect life cause problems?   


BIFoR FACE enables the much needed real world experiment to improve our climate projections and evaluate risks to forest ecosystems and the services they provide. Learning about the effects of increased CO2 will also help us plant woodland most likely to survive and thrive in the future.

BIFoR FACE is a so-called 'second generation' forest FACE site.  After a 'first generation' of forest FACE experiments had built our knowledge base on how young forest plantations are affected by increasing atmospheric CO2, the scientific community had long argued the urgent need for upscaled experiments in mature, complex forest ecosystems. BIFoR FACE is now one of three such facilities worldwide, and the only one in the Northern Hemisphere. The other locations are Australia and Brazil. 
BIFoR%20Rings%20photo%20credit%20Norbury%20EstateAerial view of the BIFoR FACE Facility 
The BIFoR FACE facility - 5 minute video
Introducing BIFoR FACE - 1 minute 43 secs video
The installation of BIFoR FACE - 1 min 32 secs


BIFoR FACE was "switched on" on 3rd April 2017, coinciding with the spring flush of the oak trees, crowning three years of careful planning, construction and testing. It was recognised with awards for its sensitive construction and low-impact integration into the existing woodland, 

2024 marks the eighth growing seasons wherein, three 30-metre-wide plots of mature oak forest have been immersed in an atmosphere with elevated COconcentration, topped up from current values of just above 400 ppm (parts per million) to 550 ppm, a roughly 38% increase, which the entire globe is likely to see by 2050. More details about the experimental design and how we deliver elevated carbon dioxide into the patches of the woodland, the 'FACE arrays,' can be found on our experimental design webpage. 

Take a virtual tour through BIFoR FACEnew virtual BIFoR
The fundamental research questions are:
  1. How does elevated COchange carbon flows and storage, nutrient cycles and water use?
  2. How does elevated COchange biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function?
  3. How does elevated CO2 affect susceptibility to biotic and abiotic stress? 
However, BIFoR FACE facility is intended to be a platform with which a wide variety of research questions can be tested. Please visit the following webpages to find out details of: 

Current research projects - including two UKRI NERC funded projects (QUINTUS & FACE Underground)
Publications & research findings 

The research team is drawn from leading research groups across the world, each bringing their distinctive research expertise to bear. We encourage anyone, from anywhere to come and start up a research project at BIFoR FACE, it is not just for the University of Birmingham Research Research Team. Indeed, we have many examples of other academics and students from a range of Universities that have applied to place their monitoring equipment in the experimental plots. The Facility can also be used for research other than that related to elevated carbon dioxide. We are well set up to support forest research with technicians on site, welfare facilities, historical data, archives of samples, wifi and data storage and infrastructure such as a:


40m-high Flux Tower
Met Masts
Canopy Access - a our unique system allowing anyone access to the very top of the canopy without weeks and months of tree climbing training. 

The webpage 'BIFoR FACE access use/ collaborate' gives more information. 

3D model of the BIFoR FACE facility (courtesy Dr Rick Thomas)3D model view of BIFoR FACE woodland Mill Haft


BIFoR FACE is also connected to long-term ecosystem research networks in the UK, continental Europe, and North America. This includes linking closely with the already operational EucFACE facility in Australia and the AmazonFACE facility in Brazil, and any other forest FACE facilities built in the future. We are part of the Ecological Continuity Trust long-term ecological experiments network.

Want to find out more?

Perhaps the best way to explore BIFoR FACE is by navigating through our "Virtual BIFoR FACE" tour. As you "walk" through the facility you can click on the numbered dots to see further written information or sometimes a video about an experiment.  We also have a YouTube channel which includes a 9 minute (virtual reality) tour of the BIFoR FACE facility with commentary by Dr Rick Thomas.  We have a newsletter out twice a year which you can sign up to receive. We offer the opportunity for 'in person' tours of the facility for stakeholder groups & encourage high schools to visit.  School teachers can find curriculum linked teaching resources "Education" webpage.  

Follow us on social media for the most up to date news.  Twitter @BIFoRUoB   Instagram /biforuob 

Want to get involved?

You can apply to start a research project at BIFoR FACE or contact one of our research team to talk about collaborations.  You can also get involved in a number of ways by signing up to receive our newsletter / volunteering / working with us / attend our conference / apply for fellowship opportunities / visit us / use our educational resources / donate to our research / business engagement 


BIFoR FACE takes shape using the construction equivalent of keyhole surgery

In the video above see how the BIFoR FACE facility took shape using the construction equivalent of keyhole surgery (more videos are available on our YouTube channel)