Lynx reintroduction research wins UK student award

The Eurasian Lynx: Magnus Johansson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]The Eurasian Lynx: Magnus Johansson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)]A student whose research made national and international news has been awarded the first UK Masters Student of the Year Award by the FindAPhD website.

Thomas Ovenden, currently a PhD student at the University of Stirling, conducted his MSc in Environmental Forestry at Bangor University. His masters research project was on the potential to reintroduce the Eurasian lynx, a species extinct in Britain for over 1,000 years.

Tom’s results revealed that Scotland possesses sufficient connected habitat to provide a realistic chance of establishing populations of lynx, provided that the lynx are reintroduced to a suitable site.

In their adjudication, the judges of the Postgrad Awards acknowledged the impact of Tom’s work saying:

“Very few Masters students can claim to have made real world impacts during their Masters degree, but Thomas, whose Masters was his first experience of higher education, achieved national press coverage for his project to reintroduce the lynx into Scotland.”

Tom receives a £500 cash prize as a reward for his hard work, dedication and commitment, and will be featured in the company’s blog pages, showcasing his success so far, his winning application, and his hopes for his future career.

Tom gained direct access to his MSc degree in Environmental Forestry based on his experience in environmental conservation, reflecting Bangor University’s inclusive ethos.

Tom wrote his entire dissertation using solar power, while running the Handa Island nature reserve, in the Inner Hebrides, for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. He worked under the supervision of Professor John Healey.Tom wrote his entire dissertation using solar power, while running the Handa Island nature reserve, in the Inner Hebrides, for the Scottish Wildlife Trust. He worked under the supervision of Professor John Healey.According to his research supervisor, Prof John Healey, Tom absolutely thrived right from the beginning of his degree course and rapidly established himself as one of the highest calibre, most committed members of the class, where he had a catalytic role among the culturally diverse, multinational student group.

“The Bangor MSc in Environmental Forestry caters both for students who are converting to forestry from another discipline, and those in the environmental sector who, like Tom, want to develop their forestry knowledge”, said Professor Healey.  “There is a strong emphasis on practical “learning by doing” closely linked to the latest developments in theory, forest management and policy.  Tom is a great example of the graduates from this degree who have gone on to successful careers in the forestry sector all over the world.”

Tom has since successfully won a prestigious PhD studentship at the University of Stirling, funded jointly with the government agency Forest Research.

Tom’s research on reintroducing Eurasian lynx to Scotland was published in the highly respected journal Biological Conservation and attracted a great deal of interest from UK and international news media and conservation organisations.  To further promote the impact of this research, Tom has published a short policy brief to explain the implications for conservation policy and practice.

Bangor University’s MSc Environmental Forestry course has been running for more than 25 years, with more than 800 graduates from 88 countries. The course has close links with forestry and environmental organisations in the UK and overseas, and staff of these organisations make regular contributions to the course. 

Tom’s Policy Brief and published paper:

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2019.03.035

https://www.stir.ac.uk/media/stirling/services/research/documents/Ovenen---Lynx-Policy-Briefing_2.pdf

https://www.bangor.ac.uk/news/research/new-study-models-the-proposed-reintroduction-of-the-eurasian-lynx-to-scotland-40312

Publication date: 29 July 2019