Pioneering champion of forest research is winner of the Peter Savill Award 2018


Woodland Heritage is delighted to announce that the winner of this year’s Peter Savill Award is Professor Jo Bradwell, an immunologist by profession, but whose support for innovation in science and research for the benefit of trees and forestry over the last five years has no parallel in the UK.

Professor Bradwell studied medicine at the University of Birmingham and graduated in 1968, eventually becoming professor in the Department of Immunology. He founded the multi-award winning, Binding Site, a University spin-out company in 1983, which first developed diagnostic products for immune-deficiency and autoimmunity then a range of important novel cancer tests.

Thanks to a transformational gift of £15 million in 2013 by Prof Bradwell, a new Institute of Forest Research was established by the University of Birmingham to study the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands, and the resilience of trees to pests and diseases

The gift of £15 million, which was donated by Professor Jo Bradwell and his wife Dr Barbara Scott, is one of the largest gifts to a UK university, and enabled the University of Birmingham to establish a unique, world leading centre and to be bold and ambitious in its research intentions to understand how forests react to the combined threats of climate change and invasive pests and diseases.

In addition to on-campus laboratories, the Institute has created ‘FACE’, the Free Atmosphere Carbon Enrichment facility in Staffordshire, enabling scientists to take measurements from deep within the soil to above the tree canopy. Autonomous sensors and instrumented trees allow scientists to take measurements continuously and remotely, over timescales ranging from seconds to decades.

The dynamic response of forests to combinations of climate change and pests and diseases are only partially understood, because there have been too few experiments on established unmanaged (wild) forests of sufficient scientific depth and duration.

As Professor Jo Bradwell explained:

‘The UK has the lowest woodland cover of any large, European country because of deforestation over the centuries. What little we have remaining is now under serious threat from climate change and imported tree diseases. The new forestry institute will increase our understanding of these challenges in order to help planners, owners and foresters maintain and improve the health of our woods.’  

Lewis Scott, Co-Founder of Woodland Heritage said:

‘We are delighted to announce that Professor Jo Bradwell is to be the recipient of the Peter Savill Award 2018, in recognition of his unique contribution to the world of forestry both in the UK and internationally, and in such a short period of time.  As well as the amazing facilities at the ‘FACE’ facility, Professor Bradwell has established a working, woodland estate at Norbury Park, which has included the planting of over one hundred different species in a unique test of what trees might be most suitable to grow in the UK in the future’.


Editor’s Notes

Woodland Heritage was established as a charity in 1994 by two cabinet makers keen to ‘put something back’.  A membership-based organisation, the charity supports the resilient management of woodlands, the development of the timber supply chain, the furthering of knowledge and skills within the forestry and timber sectors as well as within the general public, and the tackling of threats to the future supply of high quality UK timber.  As well as running the popular ‘From Woodland to Workshop’ courses and a Field Weekend each year, Woodland Heritage produces an annual Journal.  A current priority for the charity is supporting research into Acute Oak Decline; it is also a founding member of Action Oak.

The Peter Savill Award for a significant contribution to British Forestry was inaugurated in 2007 and has been awarded annually since then by Woodland Heritage.

The contribution to forestry made by the selected individual must be in sympathy with the objectives of Woodland Heritage and in one of the following areas of forestry: silviculture; research; marketing; wood processing; education. Normally the prize will focus on a contribution to one of the above areas with an emphasis on Britain, broadleaves and lowland forestry, although not exclusively so.

Professor Bradwell is the thirteenth recipient of the Peter Savill Award.

DR PETER SAVILL FICFoR - Up until September 2006, when he retired, Peter was a Reader in Forestry, Oxford Forestry Institute, Department of Plant Sciences, University of Oxford and a Fellow of Linacre College and University of Oxford. Peter was a Woodland Heritage Trustee for 17 years from 1999 to 2016, is currently Chair of Trustees of the Slyva Foundation, a former Chairman of Future Trees Trust and has published numerous papers, books and publications.

For more information on this release, please contact Guy Corbett-Marshall on 07816-384221

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