Barry Gardiner, one of Forest Research’s valued Research Fellows, has received an honorary doctorate from Laval University, Canada, in recognition of his extensive and exceptional contribution to forestry science.
Barry is a prime example of how vital interdisciplinary working can be in forestry. He previously spent 25 years working as a Senior/Principal Scientific Officer at Forest Research, during which he was instrumental in developing our popular ForestGALES software that has proven so important to forest managers for simulating wind damage risk. But it wasn’t straightforward.
Combining disciplines to find solutions
Barry explains: “I used my background in physics to study wind in forests and to develop models for predicting the risk of storm damage. But physics wasn’t enough to fully understand the problem and I had to also learn about tree physiology, tree growth, and the properties of the wood that holds trees up. I had to become familiar with multiple scientific disciplines to tackle a complex problem involving the wind, soil, roots, tree canopies and stems.”
A practical tool for forest managers
The ForestGALES computer-based decision support tool enables forest managers to estimate the probability of wind damage to any conifer stand in Britain. It has now been adapted to the conditions of several countries, including Canada, Japan, New Zealand, France and Brazil.
One of Forest Research’s current projects is focusing on modifying ForestGALES to calculate the risk of wind damage to ‘alternative silvicultural systems’ and mixed species stands.
“To be able to have your scientific work adopted and incorporated into practical decision making within your lifetime is a rare privilege for any scientist,” Barry commented.
“This honour is recognition of all the researchers around the world involved in understanding the influence and impact of wind on forests and the communities that depend on forests.”
Since December 2011, Barry has worked as a senior scientist at INRA-Bordeaux (the French National Institute for Agricultural Research) as part of a programme to develop landscape scale methods for minimising wind damage risk to forests. This work is in collaboration with colleagues in Forest Research and in CSIRO, Australia.