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Trees to contribute to research

Dozens of semi mature native trees including Maple, London Plane, Birch, Cherry, Mountain Ash and Whitebeam will be among those being planted as part of the Pontio project.


The Pontio building, part-funded by the EU’s Convergence European Regional Development Fund through the Welsh Assembly Government, is designed to fit its surroundings and relate closely to the landscape of the park. That’s why as many trees as possible, many of them mature trees, are being retained around the building. This will blur the boundaries between the building and the park. Trees that need to be removed are being replaced with native species either on site or around the University’s campus, and the felled timber is being put to good use.


Several community and University projects are already underway to re-use trees that are not being retained. The trunks of some trees have been identified to use as ‘outdoor furniture’ for the parkland surrounding Pontio, and one postgraduate research project will use the timber to examine the positive uses of ‘biochar’ – charcoal used to nutritionally supplement soil – in reducing greenhouse gas emissions within Welsh agriculture and forestry.


Andy Appleby, a student in the School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography says: “Being able to use some of the trees from the Pontio site gives me access to timber whose provenance is known, and also means that the trees can be put to a potentially beneficial use.”


Andy’s supervisor, Professor Tom De Luca, said: “Sourcing the material from Pontio is a form of reuse or recycling. It means that Pontio is already spurring on innovative research even though it is still in the demolition stage.”


“Andy is testing whether there is a logical or meaningful application for biochar in north Wales. Preliminary results from field trials at our experimental farm look promising. There is definitely no negative or deleterious effect of biochar and it has added a stable form of carbon to the soils here.” 


“The application of biochar to the soil has the potential benefits of improving the productivity of the soil by retaining applied nutrients, storing carbon in the soil because of its slow rate of degradation, and the filtering of water within the soil due to its porosity and absorbent properties.


Andy commented: “There is also the possibility for biochar to be incorporated into Pontio’s landscaping as well, thereby returning some of the carbon to its place of origin.”


Professor Fergus Lowe, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Bangor University, who is leading the project said: “Trees will be an integral part of Pontio’s landscape. They will enhance the environment and maintain the character of the area as well as having a positive effect on people living and working in the City.”

Publication date: 8 December 2010