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Birmingham plants seed for forestry research

The University of Birmingham has set up a £15-million forestry research centre to study the impact of climate change on the UK’s woodlands.

The Institute for Forest Research will also study how trees become resistant to diseases and pests, says Jo Bradwell, a former professor at the university who also donated funding for the centre.

“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,” Bradwell said in a statement.

The centre’s creation comes amid reports of the spread of Chalara ash dieback, a disease that has ravaged ash trees in Europe. Although the UK only has 607 confirmed cases of the disease, there are fears that its spread would be a threat to the country’s estimated 80 million ash trees. The disease causes the loss of leaves and often leads to trees dying.

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