SFT Announces Award Winners

Posted on

The Scottish Forestry Trust is delighted to announce that the winner of their Scottish Woodlands Student Excellence Award for 2021 is Dr Vanessa Burton, a Spatial Scientist with Forest Research who completed her PhD at Edinburgh University. Her thesis on “Visions for woodland expansion in 21st Century Scotland: alternative governance strategies and ecosystem service implications” explored how governance and who makes decisions, influences both woodland expansion and the ecosystem services delivered.

Speaking from her home in Edinburgh, Vanessa said “Thank you very much to both the Trust and Scottish Woodlands for this unexpected honour, and for the Trust’s valuable support throughout my PhD. The project enabled me to develop an interdisciplinary skillset, and to hopefully contribute in a small way to the topical issue of woodland expansion in Scotland. I hope that I can continue to build on research approaches which both encourage and inform imaginative ways of thinking around sustainable land use and how woodlands and forestry could be integrated within this.”

Ralland Browne, Managing Director of Scottish Woodlands Ltd and a Trustee of the Scottish Forestry Trust, said “I am delighted that the Scottish Woodlands Student Excellence Award this year is being presented to Vanessa and I wish her every success in her future career. The research that Vanessa has undertaken on the varying stakeholder visions of woodland expansion in Scotland will help to inform how we can best achieve Scottish Government’s ambitious planting targets. Forestry delivers a wide range of public benefits and achieving a good balance of these is something we at Scottish Woodlands strive to deliver.”

The Trustees also awarded a Special Award to Dr David Gil-Moreno, now a researcher at National University of Ireland Galway working in the Woodprops programme, recognising his PhD completed at the Forest Products Research Institute, Napier University Edinburgh. David’s thesis was on “Potential for noble fir, Norway spruce, western red cedar and western hemlock grown for timber production in Great Britain” and was felt by the Trustees to be a technically excellent piece of work.

David whose current role involves the characterisation of Irish-grown timber species for the best utilisation of forest resources and the diversification of the timber supply said “I cannot stress enough how grateful I am to The Scottish Forestry Trust for supporting my PhD. As we are becoming more aware of climate change and the consequences that it will bring it seems more evident the need to use low embodied carbon materials in construction and to diversify the timber supply. My thesis showed that there are species with structural quality and merchantability that can contribute to diversifying the timber industry in Great Britain. I am extremely proud of the work leading to my PhD thesis, and this award means a great deal to me”.

Dr Keith Kirby, Chair of the Scottish Forestry Trust’s Projects and Research Committee noted “We are entering a time of great change for forestry. If we are to make the most of the opportunities for an expansion of tree cover and of the benefits that trees and woods bring, we need good research to underpin what we do.  That is why the Scottish Forestry Trust is delighted to recognise the work of young researchers through its Student Excellence Award which is supported by Scottish Woodlands. We are also grateful to the Forestry Commission, Scottish Forestry and Natural Resources Wales who have co-funded our Bursary Scheme which over a 10 years period has supported 23 research studentships.”