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Forestry student’s book plea has a happy ending
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When final year Cumbria University forestry student Bryce Flannaghan was unable to purchase a specialist book to help with his final year dissertation, the Royal Forestry Society’s local division, a tree planting gang and a specialist book seller all stepped in to help.

Bryce Planting

700 to go! Forestry student Bryce gets planting

At a retail price of more than £130 the book was well beyond Bryce’s student budget but in return for him joining a planting gang for a day and planting more 700 young tree - 500 Douglas fir and 200 Scots pine - in an area being restocked on the Levens Estate on Gaythorne Plain high in the Pennines in Cumbria, a deal was done!

Levens Estate’s forestry consultant Mike Smith, who is also an RFS North Western Division Committee member, made the initial offer to Bryce who gamely took it up. Mike had designed the restocking of the woodland and was in charge of the restocking works. For every tree Bryce planted, 11 pence was added to the pot. That was topped up by a contribution from the RFS North Western Division and, after Summerfield Books offered a discount when they heard the story, the book will be purchased for the University library with Bryce the first to take it out on loan.

Bryce is studying a BSc in Forest Management at the University of Cumbria and his dissertation research is looking at the relationships between tree species, brash mats (the tops and branchwood left lying on the ground to protect it) and how this would affect soil compaction if species change due to climate change in the future. 

There is very little published reference material on such a specialist subject and the book Bryce needed, Soil and Root Damage in Forestry: Reducing the Impact of Forest Mechanization by Iwan Westerlund was not available in the University library.

North Western Division Secretary Ian Jack, who joined Bryce for part of the day’s planting, said: “When I heard the story, it took me way back to my student days when one of my dissertations was looking at the impacts of horse extraction and the co-efficiency of drag of the forest soils in Greystoke Forest. I felt a real empathy with Bryce and was so delighted we could find a way to help him. He is a great worker and deserves to go far.”  

After a day spent as part of the planting gang, Bryce said:” I had a fantastic experience and want to thank Ian, Mike and the planting team as well as everyone at RFS who made this possible. It’s always good to reinforce academic learning with practical application and its fascinating to see the work that goes into designing and planting a woodland. 

“The book will be incredibly helpful with my dissertation as very little research exists into the efficacy of brash mats from different tree species and the RFS’s generous donation to my university’s library will undoubtedly help other students in future as well.”

Mike Smith added: "It was a pleasure to help this young forester with a practical solution. Forestry is an industry which requires practical solutions to every challenge. I hope his research gives more focus on the importance of soil protection, because after clean air and clean water, soils are the most important resource on the planet and we as foresters should always try to protect them.”