Students at Wiltshire College & University Centre’s Lackham campus were treated to an expert guest talk this week when biological scientist Dr Tommaso Jucker visited the site.
Dr Jucker is a lecturer and senior research fellow at the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Bristol. He has published more than 50 papers in academic journals on science, nature and ecology, and studies the response of forest ecosystems to environmental change. His research group use large datasets, modelling and remote sensing to gauge what forests may look like in the future. His research also takes him to some of the most biodiverse places on the planet, including the forests of Borneo.
In 2020, Dr Jucker was awarded the British Ecological Society’s Founders’ Prize which commemorates the enthusiasm and vision of the Society's founders and is awarded each year to an outstanding early-career ecologist who is starting to make a significant contribution to their field.
Dr Jucker delivered an informative and engaging hour-long talk to students studying the Foundation Degree (FdSc) Environmental Science and Sustainability course, although relevant students and staff from each of the College’s other campuses were also welcome to attend.
The focus of the talk was to ask the fundamental question whether we can plant our way out of a climate crisis. Dr Jucker discussed the role of tree planting globally as well as within the UK, highlighting the ability of tree planting to offset carbon and common problems facing tree planting schemes. He also emphasised the importance of appropriate tree species selection and location as well as ensuring stakeholder involvement in the overall success of planting projects.
After the talk there were lively discussions ranging from the difference between a woodland and forest and the public perception of woodland itself. The debate strongly centred on the ability of the UK to reach 30,000 hectares of trees planted annually from 2025 as part of the UK government’s commitment to reach net zero by 2050.
Helen Roberts, Lecturer in Horticulture at Lackham and organiser of the event, said: “We are very grateful for Dr Jucker for giving up his time to visit our students this week. Everyone who attended found it incredibly enlightening, with students well aware of the role they have to play in supporting sustainability issues.
“Dr Jucker truly is an expert in his field and delivered an extremely insightful talk on a range of topics that students on the College’s Foundation Degree (FdSc) Environmental Science and Sustainability course have been exploring this year. I have no doubt that hearing what Dr Jucker had to say will be of invaluable benefit as they work towards the conclusion of their programme this year as well as their future careers.”
The College runs a range of science courses at post-16 and university level, including a new T Level in Health and Science: Laboratory Sciences at the Salisbury and Lackham campuses, starting this September. For more information on the College’s science courses, click here.