Members of MEMBRA were delighted to attend the Future Treescapes 2022 meeting that was held in Imperial College on September 22nd. This free-to-attend and public-event received over 300 registrations from those who wished to learn about the Treescapes programme. It was a joy to come together in-person with fellow project members for the first time since the programmme was launched in 2020!
The day was kicked off in unusual fashion with a tree-tale from Patrick Ryan who explained the origin of the ‘One-Tree-Hill‘. It was a refreshing start to a meeting that had the event organisers in the audience wondering if this could be a regular occurrence!
Sir Harry Studholme provided the opening address in which he gave a mixed assessment of the current state of trees within the UK. The increased interest is excellent but considered, evidence-based decision-making is needed when planting strategies are decided.
Each Phase 1 project provided a short introduction to their process and progress. MEMBRA PI Estrella Luna-Diez provided a broad summary to the project and outlined progress which has included a LOT of fieldwork, plenty of sequencing, phenotyping, artistic interaction and consideration of the language of trees; highlighting the remarkable cross-discplinarity of the project.
Over the lunch break each Phase 1 project was invited to provide a exhibition stall to introduce their project. We think MEMBRA prepared the most complete exhibit with BiFOR VR headsets, microscopic analysis of tree-rings and some real-life plants! We were situated in the centre of the busy lunch thoroughfare so we gained a lot of eyeballs… although the flipside was that it was difficult to fully demonstrate our items…..
It was excellent to hear from the other phase I projects and especially from newLEAF that is looking at the genetic-basis of tree-adaptation to environmental changes. This project has clear overlaps with MEMBRA, which are being currently explored.
It was exciting to hear from the newly funded Phase 2 projects that are as diverse and exciting as the Phase 1. In particular the DiversiTree project has clear links to the biological aspects of MEMBRA as they look at the role of forest mixtures on the resilience of treescapes to climate change, predation and disease.
The meeting provided new contacts and fresh enthusiasm for the Treescapes programme as researchers go back to their own projects knowing that they are part of a larger innovative whole!