Birmingham Institute of Forest Research 

Professor Rob MacKenzie of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, describes, in 60 seconds, the 'Big Science' research being carried out by the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research.

The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research has been set up to investigate the pests, diseases, and environmental pressures affecting woodlands and forests in the UK and across the world.

Trees and forests are essential. They are home to more than half of all of the world’s species. They provide food, water, and fuel security, and we simply feel better when we have trees near us.

As a result of a visionary 15 million pound donation we are immersing a mature oak woodland in the environmental conditions that will prevail in about 50 years’ time. This experiment is “big science”; it’s like an ecological Large Hadron Collider but, instead of stripping nature to its bare bones and bashing them together, our experiment disturbs the ecosystem as little as possible. We then watch carbon and other elements cascade through the trees and the soil, looking for the ‘elementary ecological particles’ that explain how forests work. Getting the global carbon balance right depends on measurements such as these.

The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR)

Professor Rob MacKenzie's profile