Nursery Forestry Project Receives Funding Boost

1 December 2022

A forestry project based in Lincolnshire has benefited from a Government funding award to improve the stocks of woodland in the UK.

A forestry project based in Lincolnshire has benefited from a Government funding award to improve the stocks of woodland in the UK.

The ISILDUR Project, run by Lincoln Institute for Agri-Food Technology (LIAT), part of the University of Lincoln, UK, aims to address labour shortages in the forest nursery sector by developing intelligent robotics solutions for plant processing.

A total of £20 million was awarded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) to organisations throughout the country to improve tree planting stocks, woodland resilience, domestic timber production and to accelerate tree planting across England.

LIAT’s award of almost £300,000 is part of the Tree Production Innovation Fund, which aims to support innovative projects that explore how new technologies and ways of working can enhance the quantity, quality, and diversity of the tree planting stock in England.

Marcello Calisti, Associate Professor in Agri Robotics at LIAT said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to match scientific challenges and impactful research.

“Our team at the University of Lincoln is excited to work with the long-term objective of contributing to the climate crisis response, and this funding will help us to build a responsible, innovative and world-leading robotic solution for plant processing.

 “It addresses societal challenges such as the labour crisis that impairs the growth and sustainability of Forest Nurseries, and at the same time it contributes to fundamental understanding of how robots perceive and interact with the world.”

 Over 80 per cent of the 53 million tonnes of wood products that the UK consumes every year is imported from overseas. This latest DEFRA funding will support projects developing new technologies and working practices to help homegrown timber production meet a greater proportion of domestic demand.

This will grow the United Kingdom’s forestry and primary wood processing sectors, which support 30,000 jobs and contribute over £2 billion to the UK economy every year.

Trudy Harrison, Forestry Minister, said:

 “Our trees, forests and woodlands are the nation’s lungs – filtering our air, capturing carbon, providing habitats and serving as a powerful weapon in the fight against climate change.

“Protecting and restoring our precious natural world can work hand-in-hand with building a stronger, healthier economy. Using new technologies through these funds will build a bigger, better and more resilient forestry industry for the future, as we strive to deliver on our commitment to leave the environment in a better state than we found it.”