One of the penalties/benefits of being around a long time in one particular field, is that unless you are a hermit or don’t publish anything, people do get to know of your existence. Couple that with the fact that in the UK university sector, faculty that work in forest entomology are almost as rare as hen’s teeth and it is perhaps understandable that you find yourself on committees that you would never have imagined yourself being asked to join.
Some of us just hadn’t realised that the 1970s had been and gone.
Certainly when I was a long-haired forest entomologist working for the Forestry Commission near Edinburgh, I would have laughed out
loud if someone had told me that 25 years later, with shorter hair but a longer beard, I would be a member of the grandly titled UK Tree Health & Plant Biosecurity Expert Taskforce. These things do happen however, and continue to happen. Last year for example, I became a Trustee of the Scottish Forestry Trust. At the time of the invitation (late 2014), I had been involved with forest research in the UK and elsewhere, since 1982, yet to my knowledge, I had never heard of the Scottish Forestry Trust and I am sure that I was not the only one out there. I have now been a Trustee for over a year, and at our last meeting in December 2015, we felt that it was about time we raised our profile, after all, our role is to “provide funds by way of grants, to support research, education and training” in forestry. At the risk of bringing down an avalanche of applicants I volunteered to write a blog post about our activities and to tweet about our funding opportunities.
The first thing to make clear, and I have highlighted this at the top of the page, is that we do NOT just fund Scots and Scottish projects. Despite the name, we support forestry projects the length and breadth of the UK. The projects we fund are extremely diverse; literature reviews, major research projects, public lectures, training events and MSc project field work. We also part-fund PhD studentships, either directly or from our new Forest Health bursary scheme run in conjunction with the Forestry Commission to specifically fund forest health projects. Perhaps our most bizaare/adventurous grant was to the Asylon Theatre group to support the production of a play, Fraxi – Queen of the Forest to inspire primary school children to care for and learn more about trees. In terms of actual funding the grants range from a couple of thousand to £60 000, so perhaps not as much as you could get from other sources but applicants can apply for monies to cover up to 30% of the anticipated cost of their project which is better than nothing, although in exceptional circumstances we may fund 50% of the costs.
As a general guide we are looking for projects that are relevant to UK forestry in the broadest sense, to wider UK forestry research priorities and have clear objectives / research questions and methods, some expected research outcomes, within a clearly defined time frame and have additional funding from other sources. We specifically do not fund projects that have already started, so there is no point in contacting us to bail you out of a short-fall in funding, nor do we fund capital costs. We are aware of the difficulty in obtaining funds to do forest research in the UK so are keen to help wherever possible, but please do make sure that your applications are relevant, of a high quality and fall within our remit. If in doubt about the eligibility of your proposed project feel free to contact us using this link to discuss it before putting in a formal application.
I hope I have inspired all you eligible applicants to download an application form and attempt to make our next deadline, February 19th, but failing that you can aim for our two other application deadlines in May and October. Good luck and I look forward to seeing your applications in due course.
Hopefully not as many as these 🙂