Six travel bursaries take forestry students around the world

Date Issued: 07 June 2012
Randle bursary winner Elizabeth Kartawick studying in the Solomon Islands

The Royal Forestry Society (RFS) has awarded a record number of Randle Bursaries, amounting to nearly £3000, to members involved in overseas projects. Six successful candidates have been named for the bursaries, which are awarded by the Donald Randle Trust. They will be travelling to the Republic of Ireland, the Solomon Islands, New Zealand, Sweden and Georgia as they pursue a wide range of studies.

Recipients include:

Elizabeth Kartawick, who is travelling to the Solomon Islands to live with the indigenous peoples of eight villages hidden within Guadalcanal’s Cloud Forest.

She says: “My mission is to expand and amend the current database on ‘Food plants of the Solomon Islands’, including cooking and agricultural practices, while exploring ways in which current practices can be combined with the principles of ‘evergreen agriculture’.

“I hope to understand the reasons for, and importance of, traditional ‘Kastom’ agricultural practices for the life of the forest and its inhabitants. More importantly, I hope to understand the interaction between these practices and those of intensive agriculture – a result of globalised trade and demographic growth.”

Stefania Pizzirani is one of two successful bursary winners heading for New Zealand where she will taking a PhD. She is using the bursary towards her travel costs and says:

“Forests in New Zealand, although relatively extensive, are only managed in two ways: as nature reserves and for intensive timber production. However, certain factors affecting forestry – such as shifts in consumer demands, changes in environmental policy, risk mitigation due to the effects of climate change, and a desire to decrease dependence on foreign oil – are leading to a national interest in forest management diversification.

“There is a great need therefore to evaluate the feasibility and potential impacts of expanding New Zealand forestry to include other management alternatives such as continuous cover, multiple objectives, and wood fuel production. It is necessary to perform a life cycle assessment and a sustainability impact assessment on these new management approaches in order to understand economic, environmental and social implications to New Zealand. Together these assessments will provide a robust foundation for a comprehensive analysis of current and future forestry options. My PhD will be addressing these issues.”

Andrew Leslie is off to study eucalyptus in the Republic of Ireland to obtain information that will guide better matching of species and origins of eucalypts to the range of planting sites in the UK.

He says: “The approach will involve examining the performance of a range of eucalypts across a variety of sites and ages of stands in Ireland. There are impressive stands in trials dating back to the 1930s and also later ones from the 1980s and 1990s. While the climate is generally more maritime in Ireland, the results for the Irish trials may be directly applicable to warmer, coastal parts of the UK. Furthermore, the recent laboratory freezing tests of particular origins will also be most useful in guiding selection of material for the UK. It is hoped that the visit will also allow stronger links to be forged between researchers in the UK and in Ireland.”

Gary Kerr of Forest Research will be attending the ‘Uneven-aged silviculture: Optimizing timber production, ecosystem services and resilience to climate change’ conference at Lincoln University, New Zealand, organized by a research group of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations (IUFRO). Gary has been involved with the group since he started working on continuous cover silviculture for Forest Research and is the coordinator of the research group. He will be presenting a scientific paper on work he has been doing on the resilience of forests to climate change. He is also taking part in a post-conference tour to a variety of forest locations on the south island of New Zealand.

Other bursary awardees are: Paul Bartlett who is heading for Georgia in Eastern Europe and Chloe Darling who is going to a hugely forested area in the Sami region of Sweden.

Bursary winners will be submitting articles detailing their studies to future issues of the RFS Quarterly Journal of Forestry (QJF).