Details of student and placement
Name: Tim Peters
Institution: Bangor University
Placement Host: The Woodland Trust
What motivated you to apply for the placement?
I have an interest in the Woodland Trust and am in favour of their aims and objectives. I strongly believe that the public needs to be made more aware of the importance of forest ecosystems for ecosystem service provision and the role that plant: microbe symbiosis has is this. I feel that a lot of the general public has an impression that fungi are bad for tree as a results of some high profile pathogens and this needs to change.
Please describe how the placement aligned with the UK Industrial Strategy, giving specific examples where possible.
This placement aligns to the Clean Growth grand challenge and the Ideas, People and Places foundations of the UK’s industrial strategy. Specifically, my research contributes to the Clean Growth grand challenge through improved knowledge of belowground ecological function of forests that can be applied to the UK’s pledge to afforest in excess of 11 million hectares through initiatives such as the Northern Forest. Mycorrhizal fungi associated with trees contribute to forest ecosystem functioning and are vital for maximising carbon storage and sustaining all life on Earth. Sustainably managed forests are inextricably linked to human well-being, climate regulation, flood alleviation, soil retention, food security, environmental protection and conservation of biodiversity. Promoting the value of afforestation and sustainable forest management is essential in ensuring that the UK moves towards a clean economy over the next 50 years. I intend to address the Ideas, People and Places foundations by disseminating information about mycorrhizal fungal symbiosis and belowground biogeochemical cycling to a broad range of people from divergent sectors. This information will allow for a better understanding of the ecological principles that underpin economic productivity, which will in turn add to the evidence-base around sustainable intensification of agriculture and forestry in rural districts of the UK. Many of these regions are the least economically active regions of the UK, where tackling barriers to uptake of afforestation programmes with considerable benefits to the carbon economy, rural employment and human well-being. Founded in 1972, the Woodland Trust is the largest woodland charity in the UK, it manages over 1,000 sites covering over 26,000 ha. The work of the Woodland Trust in Wales has particularly focused on the environmental benefits that increased tree cover in both urban and rural areas would have on mental and physical well-being of the UK’s population. Post-Brexit, a switch from Common Agricultural Policy subsidies to payments for publics’ goods will necessitate improved understanding of mycorrhizal fungal diversity and its role in enhancing ecological function and ecosystem service resilience at the landscape scale.
Please outline your placement achievements.
I wrote a magazine article on Mycorrhizae and there importance for the Woodland Trust’s online magazine Broadleaf. I designed some infographic on the following subjects-
1) The importance of mycorrhizae to trees,
2) Threats to mycorrhizal fungi,
3) The difference in carbon storage capacity between undisturbed forest and recently clear-cut/ degraded forest
I wrote some policy notes explaining the importance of mycorrhizal fungi to the health and resilience of temperate forest ecosystems and generally on the global threats to forest fungi.
How has this placement influenced your future career aspirations?
I am currently working two days a week in a third sector forestry enterprise, namely Llyn Parc Mawr Community Woodland as there Woodland Environment Officer whilst I complete my write-up. I found the NPIF placement useful for networking and understanding the way that large woodland charities, such as the Woodland Trust operate.
What were your expectations and did your placement fulfill these expectations?
I didn’t really have a clear idea of what to expect, but thoroughly enjoyed working with the Woodland Trust team which exceeded my expectations significantly.
Any final comments you feel would be useful for future placements/ to summarise your experience?
Thank you for providing me with this opportunity