Bangor foresters head to the Italian Alps

. Bangor distance learners (from left to right) Simon Moller, Sean Hoskins and Peter Comerford check out avalanche protection forestry.. Bangor distance learners (from left to right) Simon Moller, Sean Hoskins and Peter Comerford check out avalanche protection forestry.Forestry graduates and students from Bangor University experienced high quality alpine forest management when they  visited the Piedmont region of Italy as part of a  recent foreign study tour.

The combined Continuous Cover Forestry Group /Pro Silva Ireland trip focused on steep-terrain silviculture in the Alps and was hosted by Pro Silva Italy.

Some 10 of the 30 attendees on the study tour were current or former Bangor University forestry students hailing from the UK, Ireland, Denmark and New Zealand. Bangor alumni included both private, Forestry Commission and Irish state foresters.

The tour visited several sites in Piedmont and the Aosta Valley where continuous cover silviculture practices are used to provide a diverse range of services on very steep terrain.

A larch/silvopasture system saw cattle being grazed beneath an overstory of mature trees but excluded from areas with naturally-regenerating trees, to ensure they could grow to maturity without risk of being browsed. The forest also protects villages below from avalanches and incorporates both winter ski runs and summer mountain bike trails.

Bangor University MSc forestry distance learning alumnus, Jonathan Spazzi, a practicing forester and Pro Silva Ireland member, was impressed with the technique.   

“It was refreshing to see traditional forest management techniques alive and well and integrated into modern society and modern silviculture,” he commented.

Current Bangor University MSc Forestry distance learner Sean Hoskins, a forestry contractor based in Ireland, said it was great to see so many Bangor foresters on the tour:

High larch forest incorporating traditional grazing practices.High larch forest incorporating traditional grazing practices.“It’s testament to the quality and reputation of the forestry masters programs at Bangor University that so many past and present students attended the trip to learn about the type of innovative forestry systems that will become increasingly important in an era of climate change.”

James Walmsley, Lecturer in Forestry at the School of Natural Sciences, commented:

“There are so many opportunities for forestry students to enhance their learning and experience.  I’m delighted that current students and alumni were able to make the most of this particular opportunity to travel to the Alps.  I confess I’m very envious! 

Bangor University is ranked in the top five best places in the UK to study Forestry, according to the Guardian University Guide League Tables 2020.

Publication date: 1 July 2019