Tree man gets top honour

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A MYERSCOUGH College academic has won a top award for his work on trees.

Dr Mark Johnston, Research Fellow in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, is this year’s recipient of the Arboricultural Association Award, a prestigious award for services to arboriculture.

Since the mid-1970s, Mark has played a crucial role in highlighting the importance of trees in the urban environment. He has worked tirelessly to raise standards in urban tree management at a national and international level.

Among his accomplishments, he initiated several major urban forestry projects in Britain and Ireland, helped organise international conferences on the subject and published numerous academic papers.

Much of his early work was done through the Forest of London Trust, a voluntary body which he founded and chaired. A few years ago, he was Lead Researcher on the government’s Trees in Towns II report. He also led the development of Europe’s first Masters Degree in Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, which has now been running at Myerscough for five years.

On hearing of his award Mark said: “Having worked in the field of arboricultural and urban forestry for nearly fourty years, it’s great to get this national award for my work. I want to thank all those remarkable people who have worked with me in Britain and Ireland over the years and without whose help I would have achieved very little.”

Mr Andrew Taaffe, Head of Greenspace at Myerscough, commented: “With this Arboricultural Association Award, Mark now has a unique ‘hat-trick’ of top awards recognising his contribution to arboriculture.

He received the MBE from the Queen in 2007 and in 2009 he was the first British person to gain the Award of Merit, the top award from the International Society of Arboriculture.”

While Mark’s College is in Lancashire, his home is in off the Ormeau Road in Belfast where he lives with his wife Anne. He initially moved to Northern Ireland twenty years ago to work as a consultant to the Department of the Environment (NI) to developing a city-wide urban forestry project for Belfast.