Study will investigate novel species.

Plumpton College joins RFS Conifers for Colleges venture

Plumpton College near Lewes, in East Sussex, has become the third college to sign up to the  Royal Forestry Society (RFS) educational and research project ‘Conifers for Colleges’. The project highlights the importance of conifers to the UK’s forestry and timber industries while promoting research into alternative species to ‘the big five conifers’ (Sitka spruce, Corsican pine, Scots pine, Douglas fir and larch), which currently account for 88 per cent of the UK’s timber crop.

Forestry students will undertake research into the species which will ensure a healthy UK timber industry in the future.

Plumpton College joins Moulton College in Northamptonshire and Myerscough College in Preston, with planting planned for the autumn. Up to five colleges will be involved during the first year of the scheme, with more joining in subsequent years.

Each trial plot will include 400 conifers – a mix of traditional and novel species – and 100 broadleaf seedlings.
In Year One, Alba Trees, of East Lothian, Cheviot Trees, from Berwick on Tweed, and Prees Heath Nurseries of Whitchurch, Shropshire, are providing a range of conifer species, with Tubex providing tree shelters and guards.
‘Students will be involved in planting and monitoring the trees annually and in developing a variety of research projects, making the information freely available on the SilviFuture database so that woodland owners and managers across the UK will be able to access the information to see what trees might be compatible with their growing conditions,’ explains RFS education manager Phil Tanner.
‘The project is providing a unique opportunity for the students involved to get first-hand knowledge of species about which many within the current forestry industry know very little – and it will mean they will be exceptionally well placed when they qualify to help ensure the UK’s timber industry flourishes,’ he adds.
The RFS will be publishing the research data and is keen for more nurseries and others within the industry ‘to get involved in helping shape our commercial woodlands for the future’.
For more information contact RFS Education Manager Phil Tanner.

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