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2017 Studentship Placements



Francis Hepburne Scott

Rfs Intern Francis Checking Tree Rings Match Existing Stand Data At Hockeridge

Francis counting tree rings to work out the correct stand age on a disputed planting map


Francis Hepburne Scott is transitioning in to the forestry sector from teaching Physics in Scotland. He is currently undertaking a Masters in Forestry from Bangor University.  

Francis’s work with the RFS has included updating the inventory of commercial species at RFS Hockeridge and Pancake Wood in the Chilterns, geo mapping the rides, wayleaves and public rights of way. Plotting and updating all of the specimen trees as well as assessing the timber quality of both the hardwood and softwood stands on site.
Francis has mapped Hockeridge and Pancake Wood fully for RFS using QGis.
Decision support tools are an important part of resillient forest managment for the 21st Century, In light of this Francis travelled to meet with John Weir at Forest Research to discover how best to utilise ESC4 with an interesting result. The beech (Fagus spp.) that is so characteristic of the Chilterns, may in the future not be a viable due to drought, instead potentially being replaced with hornbeams (Carpinus spp.) and small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata).

Francis’s work provides valuable data and support to the ongoing management of the wood, the use of ESC4 and other decision support tools allows us to plan with some degree of accuracy for the future of Hockeridge and Pancake wood. Francis has now secured a consultancy job with a forestry company based in the borders.

Esmond Harris Rfs Intern Francis Hepburne Scott Ff Po Adam Todd

From Left Esmond Harris (former RFS director), Francis Hepburne Scott (intern) Adam Todd (RFS Project Officer)




Rob Coltman

Rob Coltman Receiving Training On The Esc4 System With Stephen From Forest Research At Roslin

Rob Coltman with Stephen Bathgate at Forest Research in Roslin, Edinburgh learning the science behind the ESC decision support tool.


Rob Coltman who may look familiar as a 2016 placement, won through another succesful round of applications and structured answer interviews to secure a place in the 2017 round of  studentships. Rob has recently completed a foundation degree in forestry from Plumpton College and was with us for 8 weeks over the summer before starting a top up degree at the National School of Forestry, University of Cumbria.

Rob was tasked with developing an online database of indicator plant species. Rob carried out extensive background research on 60 most common indicator plant species that occur across the UK, sourced images and got to grips with using and understanding the science behind Forest Research’s climate change decision support tool ESC4.  

The database Rob created is designed to be a support tool to ESC4 as well as a standalone resource, providing the end user with an index of indicator species, clearly identifiable with photos of the species up close and at landscape scale.
There is also a short description of plant characteristics, where it is commonly found, as well as indicating the “Reaction” (R) figure, - a score related to soil acidity and the nitrogen (N) availability score, which when combined give an “RN” score that is used by ESC to give an indication of site fertility.


Rob at Cardrona Forest in Scotland, looking at natural regeneration rates of SS either side of a deer fenced enclosure