noun: a large area covered chiefly with trees and undergrowth.
Tom Ovenden

Tom Ovenden

PhD Student

Tom is currently studying for his PhD in forest ecology at the University of Stirling, UK in collaboration with Forest Research. The focus of his research is the resilience of forest ecosystems to climate change. Tom also runs and maintains the website forest-ecology.com.


I’m a forest ecologist with a background in conservation, having worked across a range of projects both in the UK and abroad. My interests are wide-ranging and encompass anything relating to the ecology of forest ecosystems, both temperate and tropical, with a particular focus on managing forests as complex adaptive systems, forest dynamics and resilience to extreme climatic events with a healthy fascination with mycology (fungi).

I have previously worked as an intelligence analyst in the UK and as a bio-security ranger for the Department of Conservation (DOC) in New Zealand. More recently I returned to the UK and my conservation career led me to an island nature reserve off the north coast of Scotland (Handa Island), which I ran for two years. I then spent a brief period working in the forest industry having completed my MSc in Environmental Forestry at  Bangor University, Wales and am now finally pursuing my dream of becoming a forest research scientist.

My current focus is now very much on completing my PhD at Stirling University in collaboration with Forest Research. My research will look to synthesise existing knowledge on the resilience of forests to extreme climatic events such as drought, and how different species and communities respond to stressful events and why, in the hope that we can harness this knowledge and deliver it in a UK context. This will also involve investigating the legacy and impact of historic drought events using tree ring chronologies and investigating ways in which we can foster and incorporate resilience and adaptive capacity into our forests to enable them to continue to meet the needs of people and wildlife in the face of climatic change.

I believe strongly that interdisciplinary teams of people are frequently the key to solving many of the complex problems we face as a planet. Equally I think the importance of bridging the gap between scientific research and people is fundamental. It is my hope that this website will help to bring some of the amazement and wonder that I find through studying these amazing ecosystems, the issues they face and the ways in which we think they work to a broad audience, in an easy and digestible format, with lots of nice pictures for good measure!

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