Ian Brown, from Northumberland, works for the North East of England Nature Partnership and its trading arm Capability North East Ltd, is regional chair of the Forestry Commission and will explore ways to create more wooded areas for the North East of England Nature Partnership.
Mr Brown won a Fellowship to do the six week research project from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust to exchange best practice and build greater understanding between people and cultures. He will travel around Europe by train and Africa by plane– offsetting his carbon by tree planting– to share knowledge and best practice between experts.
His findings will be important as the country’s landscape is likely to change following Brexit and for economic and environmental issues such as climate change, water flow management, species diversity and timber production for construction.
He said: “Being interviewed a few months back by Winston Churchill’s grandson was a complete highlight of my life and winning one of the 16 rural places even more so.“Trees have fascinated me from my pram, to secondary school to career.
The fact that agroforestry is a plot in The Archers underlined that the landscape of Britain was about to change because of the Government’s 25 Year Environment plan, Brexit-led farm subsidy changes and a push for climate change action.
“I will travel around Europe by train and Africa by plane – offsetting my carbon through tree planting – and on my return produce a summary of my findings. This is green mission work and working with Capability North East Ltd is such a great synergy. I appreciate them allowing me the time and space to research this nationally important subject.”
Claire Thompson, of Capability North East, said: “This really is a great opportunity for Ian and we are delighted to support his ongoing trees and landscapes research.
“The Nature Partnership will benefit greatly from Ian’s learnings, particularly when considering the significant landscape changes likely to occur following our departure from the European Union and the move towards payments for the services we receive from our environment, such as tree planting to reduce flooding and improved water quality.”
Paul Brannen MEP, Chair of the North East England Nature Partnership, who has forestry responsibilities on parliamentary committees and acted as a referee for Ian’s application, said: “Ian’s timing is excellent. Brexit will, it seems, trigger major funding changes in our countryside for the landowners and tenant farmers of the North East.
“Trees are seen to be part of the solution to so many issues, especially climate change but also water flow management, species diversity and timber production for construction with homegrown timber.”