Aberdeen student scoops forestry award

An Aberdeen student is celebrating after winning a prestigious award from Tilhill Forestry.

Ben Howard won the Tilhill Forestry Award for being the outstanding student on the MSc Environmentaland Forest Management programme in 2016-2017.

Ben was presented with a specially carved wooden trophy in the shape of an acorn by Tilhill Forestry District Manager for Central Scotland Andrew Vaughan along with £250.

As part of the company’s work to strengthen links with students, Tilhill Forestry presents awards to top performing forestry students at leading universities offering qualifications in Forestry. The company also runs a popular graduate placement scheme and a structured programme to grow the management skills not only of graduates but other staff as well.

Ben said: “It was an honour to receive the award; I’m very grateful to Tilhill Forestry for sponsoring the prize and for sending a representative to present it. So many of my classmates were equally deserving of recognition for their hard work and achievement. The forestry industry in Britain has a luminously bright future and I sincerely hope I can be a part of it."

Andrew Vaughan explains: “We run an awards programme with a number of universities across the UK. We’re delighted to continue to support Aberdeen University and recognise the hard work of students. It’s an excellent university which regularly feeds students into our graduate trainee programme.”

Dr Louise Page, from the University added: “Ben Howard was the outstanding student on the MSc Environmental and Forest Management programme in 2016-2017 and graduated in November 2017 with Distinction. 

“He maintained a consistently high standard throughout the year-long programme, including the research project.  Ben demonstrated insight and provided thoughtful contributions to discussion, introducing creative ideas and ways of thinking about problems that facilitated wider debate with the rest of the class.  For his research project, Ben showed considerable initiative and creativity, coming up with his own experimental design at short notice and dealing with setbacks, including a last minute change of project, his car breaking down and floods, with initiative and unflappable good humour.  He also provided leadership to the MSc class and was willing and able to speak for the class.”

Ben’s research project investigated the use of chemical killing of Larix spp.as an alternative to phytosanitary felling, in response to infection with Phytophthora ramorum. He sampled the natural regeneration of tree species in different stands in a Forestry Commission-owned forest in the Lake District, Wild Ennerdale, where both chemical killing and clear-felling had been used to kill infected trees.

The study concluded that chemical killing provides the opportunity to eliminate the production of P. ramorum inoculum, while eliminating the need for immediate felling. While the canopy is retained, more favourable conditions are maintained for seedling germination and growth leading to the faster development of a new canopy. The stand can, therefore, continue to fulfil a range of management objectives.