A student in a harness climbing a tree in Scutchers Acre as part of Edge Hill University's Canopy Biology module
An Edge Hill University student mastering climbing skills in the Canopy Biology module

Second-year biology students at Edge Hill University will have the chance to discover new species of plants in a revolutionary new tree climbing module that will enable them to shape the future of science.

Students enrolled on Canopy Biology will learn the basics of tree climbing and how to use their newly mastered skills to study forest canopies in Scutchers Acre, a woodland area close to the Ormskirk campus.

Led by plant science specialist Sven Batke, the new module on the course addresses a skills shortage in the industry and provides students with a practical understanding which will help them to study forest canopies throughout their degrees and future careers. 

Sven said: “There’s a real lack of practical climbing skills across canopy biology and with up to 25% of plants in some countries not able to survive on the ground, it is now even more important to introduce students to a module that can equip them with the tools and skills to enhance their research and help enable them to shape the future of science.

“I’ve been passionate about climbing for as long as I can remember so bringing my love for it together with science to explore a side of nature that most people don’t even know is there, is very exciting.”

Students will be able to gain an external qualification in Basic Canopy Access Proficiency (BCAP) as part of the module, as well as attend lectures that introduce them to the ecology, physiology and diversity of forest canopies.

Students observing a tutor at Edge Hill University climbing a tree in the Canopy Biology module

Sven added: “We want to make sure that this module is as inclusive as possible so that everyone can do it. While the physical ability to be up in the canopy will help students with their understanding, it’s not a requirement to pass the module. It’s all about discovery in a safe and controlled way, having students think for themselves and always making sure their buddy is safe while exploring the canopy.

“It’s an experience that students wouldn’t usually get, you’ve got to see it to understand there’s a whole world living up there.”

Recruitment for next year of Canopy Biology is open to second-year students enrolled in Biology, Plant Science and Ecology and Conservation programmes.

For more information about the range of BioSciences degree courses on offer at Edge Hill University, visit www.edgehill.ac.uk/study/undergraduate/biosciences/