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A J Moffat & Associates – review of the last six months

Respecting client confidentiality has prevented reporting in any detail our activities in the recent past, but it’s worth taking stock in a generic manner.  A. J. Moffat & Associates has enjoyed a range of clients including the European Commission, an Austrian governmental agency, a British water company, Defra, a County Council and a Community Forest, a London Borough Council, one of Britain’s major forest and timber harvesting companies, a woodland management and contracting service, the Royal Forestry Society, Focus on Forestry First (FFF Ltd) and Forest Research.  Services undertaken have included forestry research, forest soil identification training, brownfield land reclamation evaluation and guidance, formal evaluation of forestry research proposals and delivery, and urban forestry (Trees outside of Woodland).  It is pleasing to report that customer feedback has been consistently good, with return custom in many cases.  A.J. Moffat & Associates are always pleased to give informal advice on a range of arboricultural, urban forestry and forestry issues, particularly from an environmental perspective (see our homepage), and to undertake more demanding briefs as these emerge.  Do get in touch using the email address above.

Public and community attitudes to urban trees – an update

In November 2020, a large research project looking at modern attitudes to urban trees was announced (https://www.ajmoffat.co.uk/public-and-community-attitudes-to-urban-trees/).  This week marks the culmination of the project with the publication of a peer-reviewed paper in the prestigious journal ‘Urban Forestry & Urban Greening’ (https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ufug.2023.128177).  The paper’s Abstract is reproduced below.  Andy Moffat was delighted to be asked to be the first author of this paper, written with colleagues from Forest Research.  It is hoped that the findings will be used to define modern urban forestry policy.  Further information about the project can be found on the Forest Research website (https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/research/public-perceptions-of-urban-trees/). 

Abstract

Policy for urban trees is based upon a presumption that residents favour and benefit from them but in Britain the evidence for this is patchy and dated.  We therefore initiated a study to understand modern attitudes and perceptions from adult urban residents across Britain.  Our study consisted of exploratory focus groups to identify the main issues that concerned residents, and a large (6000 participant) demographically representative survey to quantify views and attitudes.  Further focus groups were conducted to help interpret some of the main findings from the survey.  There was a large level of support for urban trees, with a desire for more trees from about a third of the survey respondents.  Trees were favoured in parks, gardens and existing urban woodlands, and less so along transport corridors and residential streets.  The management of urban trees was an important issue for a significant proportion, mainly driven by perceived ecosystem disservices that trees can deliver.  Most recognised that local authorities held greatest responsibility for management of trees in publicly accessible space, but many were uncomfortable or uncertain how to interact with them.  A relatively small proportion of survey participants expressed an interest in participating in tree-related activities such as tree planting, watering or other forms of maintenance.  Communication about trees to urban dwellers was considered piecemeal and comparatively ineffective.  Statistical analysis revealed that respondent age was the most important factor determining attitudes to trees and their management.  The study concludes that there are important sectors of the urban population, especially young people, that are disconnected from urban trees, and that education and communication programmes need to be improved to ensure that all residents better understand what the benefits of trees are.

Soil training for foresters – making an impact!

September and October have been busy ones for Andy Moffat as he was asked to run three one day soil workshops before unsettled weather made this a risky prospect this year. Two have been run for Focus on Forestry First (https://www.focusonforestryfirst.co.uk/) held in Powys, based near Hafren Forest and involved a morning indoor session followed by an afternoon looking at and identifying soil profiles in the forest, and then discussing how this information should be used for forest management purposes. A third was held in Yorkshire on behalf of Tilhill Forestry and followed a similar structure. The workshops appear to be quite successful judging by some of the feedback received so far – see below! Further soil workshops are planned for 2024, including one for the Royal Forestry Society at Alice Holt Forest in April.

Winners of the Dr Cyril Hart Memorial Award 2022 announced

After several logistical delays, not least the death of the Queen, the Scottish Forestry Trust finally awarded the Dr Cyril Hart Memorial Award for 2022 to the authors of a paper entitled “Are there viable chemical and non-chemical alternatives to the use of conventional insecticides for the protection of young trees from damage by the large pine weevil Hylobius abietis L. in UK forestry?” and published in the international peer reviewed journal Forestry. The paper describes a series of experiments to explore whether the forestry sector could move away from using insecticides that some regard as posing unnecessary risks for aquatic organisms. The results identified conclusively that some products offer comparable levels of protection to young Sitka spruce but others were identified as serving little purpose. Andy Moffat was delighted to be invited by Forest Research colleagues to help in the writing up of this research, and then to be amongst the team who won the prestigious award.

Further information on the award can be found here and a copy of the paper can be downloaded here. Further information on the life of Dr Cyril Hart OBE can be found here.

Opportunities for blue-green infrastructure on ex mineral sites

An important contribution to the evolving understanding of nature-based solutions for urban development was published by the Institution of Civil Engineers this week – the ICE Manual of Blue-Green Infrastructure. It draws together an exceptional breadth of material to help practitioners explain the value of Blue-Green Infrastructure to others, embed it into new development projects, retrofit to older ones, and provide for its long-term successful maintenance.

Andy Moffat was delighted to be asked to co-author the chapter on blue-green infrastructure on ex-mineral sites, and to help, with other authors, bring the subject right up to date. The chapter offers practical advice on best practice, based on a professional understanding of the legislative and regulatory framework in the UK, together with collective experience of working on a large number of restored mineral sites. Further details on the book and how to order it can be found here.

Another renewal of Andy Moffat’s Visiting Professorship at the University of Reading

Andy Moffat’s Visiting Professorship at the University of Reading has been renewed for a further three years. Andy went ‘up’ to the University at Reading 50 years ago this month! He was awarded the honorary DSc degree in 2005 and granted the title of Visiting Professor with the School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science in 2007. He has maintained close links with the university throughout his career and co-supervised a number of PhD students there. He remains actively involved, and is also part of the Thrive Mentoring scheme.

The University of Reading (http://www.reading.ac.uk/about/) is one of the UK’s leading research-intensive universities and is in the top 30 universities in the UK (QS World University Rankings 2023 and the Times Good University Guide 2023).