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Science Group Leader
Robert leads the Forest Mensuration, Modelling and Forecasting Science Group at Forest Research. He manages a team of around 10 staff and oversees the delivery of a large and diverse portfolio of research projects. Robert secures, manages and delivers a range of externally-funded projects which vary in size, complexity and duration. A common theme in all work undertaken within the programme involves the development and application of methodologies and models that can be used to quantify and improve the economic and environmental performance of forestry systems.
Robert has also led the development of new Strategies for the Forestry Commission and Forest Research on Modelling (principally of forest growth, yield and carbon balance), including supporting data acquisition, and the direction of the Forestry Commission’s Permanent Mensuration Sample Plot Network.
Robert frequently serves as a representative of the Forestry Commission or UK Government expert, or as an independent scientific advisor, on external and international committees and working groups. He regularly makes presentations at regional, national and international meetings and conferences.
Robert has worked at Forest Research for over 30 years and is an authority on forest mensuration, growth and yield. He is also an internationally recognised expert on forest carbon dynamics, with particular interest on the greenhouse gas impacts of forest management and wood utilisation options. He co-authored one of the first research publications on this subject in 1989. He holds an honours degree in biophysics from the University of East Anglia and a research MSc in bioengineering from the University of Birmingham.
COST Action FP0603 - promoting the developing of methodologies to improve forest models to support the sustainable management of forests and enhance the quality and consistency of forest growth models to simulate the responses of forests to alternative managerial and climate scenarios
The findings of this project are being made available in the form of a Summary Report, published on 27th July 2022, and a Full Assessment Report, which will be published later this year.
New dynamic top height models for 10 major species in Great Britain for pure, even-aged stands
Forestry Commission Science and Innovation Strategy Programme 6
Robert is responsible for delivering the research outputs of the Science Group under this programme, which include:
Realising the vision of the new Modelling Strategy
Improved models for predicting the growth, potential production and carbon balance of forest stands, with revised growth relationships, taking account of new data and information on forest growth patterns
A new growth model for representing the development and management of mixed-age, mixed-species forest stands
An improved model of forest litter and soil carbon dynamics, including forests established on highly organic soils
Maintenance and further development of the Forestry Commission Forecast System
Development of remote sensing techniques for application to forest resource assessment and management
Delivery of a redesigned Forestry Commission Permanent Mensuration Sample Plot Network to realise the vision of the recently-agreed revised strategy for the network
Systematic technical evaluation and documentation of a number of high-impact models owned by the Forestry Commission, for the purposes of Quality Assurance.
National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory – NAEI project (Funded by BEIS and coordinated by Ricardo):
Robert oversees contributions by Forest Research to the estimation of forest sector greenhouse gas inventories and projections. The project also requires Robert to provide significant ad-hoc support to BEIS policy advisors.
Bioenergy Life Cycle Assessment (funded by the Energy Technologies Institute and coordinated by North Energy Associates):
Robert leads contributions on the modelling of forest management and wood utilisation scenarios for bioenergy production from the UK, Fennoscandia, Baltic States, Canada and the USA.
Measurement and Analysis of bioenergy greenhouse gases: Integrating GHGs into LCAs and the UK Biomass Value Chain Modelling Environment – MAGLUE (funded by EPSRC through the SUPERGEN Bioenergy Hub):
Robert leads contributions on the modelling of forest management and wood utilisation scenarios for bioenergy production from the UK, Fennoscandia, Baltic States, Canada and the USA. He is also extending the work to full LCA of forest bioenergy chains.
Summary report on Carbon impacts of biomass consumed in the EU: Communicating the key findings and messages of work undertaken for the European Commission on greenhouse gas emissions potentially associated with biomass energy use in the EU (funded by European Climate Foundation):
Robert is contributing to the interpretation of the work done, and the findings of, a recently-completed major European Commission project (Carbon Impacts of Biomass Consumed in the EU).
Peer-reviewed journal articles
Richards, M., Pogson, M., Dondini, M., Jones, E., Hastings, A., Henner, D., Tallis, M., Casella, E., Matthews, R., Henshall, P., Milner, S., Taylor, G., McNamara, N., Smith, J. and Smith, P. (2016) High resolution spatial modelling of greenhouse gas emissions from land-use change to energy crops in the United Kingdom.. Global Change Biology: Bioenergy, doi: 10.1111/gcbb.12360.
Hastings, A., Tallis, M.J., Casella, E., Matthews, R., Henshall, P., Milner, S., Smith, P. and Taylor, G. (2014) The technical potential of Great Britain to produce ligno-cellulosic biomass for bioenergy in current and future climates. Global Change Biology Bioenergy, 6, 108-122.
Whittaker, C., Mortimer, N., Murphy, R. and Matthews, R. (2011) Energy and greenhouse gas balance of the use of forest residues for bioenergy production in the UK. Biomass and Bioenergy, 35, 4581-4594.
Book and book chapters (including published conference proceedings)
Matthews, R.W., Jenkins, T.A.R., Mackie, E.D. and Dick, E.C. (2016). Forest Yield: A handbook on forest growth and yield tables for British forestry. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. i–iv + 1–92pp.
FC and FR publications including official statistics
Matthews, R.W. and Arcangeli C. (2016). Strategic review of tree and stand modelling research. Report to the Research Strategy Management Board, Forest Research, February 2016. Report produced for Research Strategy Management Board as part of FC Science and Innovation Strategy Programme 6. Forest Research: Farnham.
Matthews, R.W., Arcangeli, C. and Mackie, E.D. (2016). Corporate QA of high-impact models with applications to estimating or forecasting forest timber, biomass and carbon: key outcomes, policy implications and proposed actions. Report produced for Research Strategy Management Board as part of FC Science and Innovation Strategy Programme 6. Forest Research: Farnham.
Mackie, E.D., Craig, I.R., Arcangeli, C. and Matthews, R.W. (2015) Strategic review of mensuration sample plot data acquisition. Report produced for Research Strategy Management Board as part of FC Science and Innovattion Strategy Programme 6. Forest Research: Farnham.
Randle, T., Matthews, R. and Jenkins, T. (2014). Technical Specification for the Biomass Equations Developed for the 2011 forecast. Forest Research, Farnham
Morison, J., Matthews, R., Miller, G., Perks, M., Randle, T., Vanguelova, E., White, M. and Yamulki, S. (2012). Understanding the carbon and greenhouse gas balance of forests in Britain. Forestry Commission Research Report 18. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh. i–vi + 1–149 pp.
Jenkins, T.A.R., Matthews, R.W., Mackie, E.D. and Halsall, L. (2012) Technical Glossary: a document defining some of the terms used in the 2011 Production Forecast technical documentation. Forecast Technical Document. Forestry Commission: Edinburgh.
Jenkins, T.A.R., Mackie, E.D., Matthews, R.W., Miller, G., Randle, T.J. and White, M.E. (2011). FC Woodland Carbon Code: Carbon Assessment Protocol. Forestry Commission, Edinburgh.
Contract and project
Craig, I.R., Mackie, E.D., Arcangeli, C. and Matthews, R.W. (2017) Growth and yield of young improved Sitka spruce stands. Report for FC Scotland. Forest Research: Farnham.
Randle, T.J, Thomson, A., Vanguelova, E. and Matthews, R.W. (2017) SCOTIA forest soil carbon model: Interim progress report on comparison of model estimates and measurements of soil carbon stocks and fluxes. Report prepared for BEIS. Forest Research: Farnham.
Matthews, R.W., Mackie, E.D. and Sayce, M. (2017) Natural Resources Wales Carbon Positive Project: greenhouse gas emissions and removals from woodlands on the NRW estate. Final project report to Natural Resources Wales. Forest Research: Farnham.
Matthews, R.W., Razauskaite, R., Hogan, G.P., Mackie, E.D., Sayce, M. and Randle, T.J. (2017) The CARBINE model: a technical description. Version 1. Report prepared for BEIS. Forest Research: Farnham.
Matthews, R.W., Mortimer, N.D., Lesschen, J.P., Lindroos, T.J., Sokka, L., Morris, A., Henshall, P.A., Hatto, C., Mwabonje, O., Rix, J., Mackie, E.D. and Sayce, M. (2015) Carbon impact of biomass consumed in the EU: quantitative assessment. Final project report, project: DG ENER/C1/427. Forest Research: Farnham.
Matthews, R., Sokka, L., Soimakallio, S., Mortimer, N., Rix, J., Schelhaas, M-J., Jenkins, T., Hogan, G., Mackie, E., Morris, A. and Randle, T. (2014) Review of literature on biogenic carbon and life cycle assessment of forest bioenergy. Final Task 1 report, EU DG ENER project ENER/C1/427, ‘Carbon impacts of biomass consumed in the EU’. Forest Research: Farnham.
Matthews, R., Mortimer, N., Mackie, E., Hatto, C., Evans, A., Mwabonje, O., Randle, T., Rolls, W., Sayce, M. and Tubby, I. (2014) Carbon Impacts of Using Biomass in Bioenergy and Other Sectors: Forests. Final Report for Department of Energy and Climate Change. Revised 2014. Forest Research: Farnham.
Matthews, R., Malcolm, H., Buys, G., Henshall, P., Moxely, J., Morris, A., and Mackie, E. (2014) Changes to the representation of forest land and associated land-use changes in the 1990-2012 UK Greenhouse Gas Inventory. Report to Department of Energy and Climate Change, Contract GA0510, CEH: Edinburgh.
Matthews, R., Mortimer, N., Mackie, E., Hatto, C., Evans, A., Onesmus, M., Randle, T., Rolls, W., Sayce, M., Tubby, I. (2012) Scottish Government biomass incentives review: best use of wood fibre. Forest Research, Farnham
Matthews, R., Craig, I., Mackie, E. and Randle T (2011) Estimating the woodfuel potential of Woolhope Dome. Final Report to Forestry Commission England and Natural England. Forest Research, Farnham.
Bates, J., Matthews, R., Mortimer, N. (2011) Including UK and international forestry in Biomass Environmental Assessment Tool (BEAT2). Environment Agency Report SC090022/R1, Environment Agency: Bristol.
Kuikman, P., Matthews, R., Watterson, J., Ward, J., Lesschen, J. P., Mackie, E., Webb, J. and Oenema, O. (2011) Policy options for including LULUCF in the EU reduction commitment and policy instruments for increasing GHG mitigation efforts in the LULUCF and agriculture sectors: Synthesis Report. Alterra, Wageningen.
Software and associated manuals
Matthews, R.W., Henshall, P.A., Duckworth, R.R., Jenkins, T.A.R., Mackie, E.D. and Dick, E.C. (2016) Forest Yield: a PC-based yield model for forest management in Britain. User manual. Forestry Commission: Edinburgh.
Arcangeli, C. and Matthews, R. (2010) M1 Yield Model v1.0 Forest Research: Farnham.
Jenkins, T., Arcangeli, C., Henshall, P. and Matthews, R. (2010) M1 Yield Model, Research Interface User Guide. Forest Research: Farnham.
Presentations and outreach activities
Participated on behalf of BEIS in fact-finding visit to Southern USA on impacts of wood pellet supply from the US for use as energy in the UK, May 2017, Mississippi and Louisiana.
Presented paper on emerging findings of EPSRC SUPERGEN MAGLUE project at SUPERGEN Annual Conference, March 2017, Manchester.
Presented FC/FR Model QA findings and Modelling Strategy at meeting of the FC Expert Group on Timber Trade Statistics, November 2016, Edinburgh.
Presented three papers (Sample Plot Strategy progress, Modelling Strategy proposal, LULUCF GHG inventory risks), at meeting of FC Research Strategy Management Board, October 2016, Cardiff.
Participation as expert panel member on behalf of UK FCO in event organised during Climate Diplomacy Week, September 2016, Helsinki.
Attended by invitation at evidence gathering session for Royal Academy of Engineering Enquiry into bioenergy LCA, July 2016, London.
Participated in Expert Review of BEIS project on international LULUCF potentials (undertaken by IIASA, Austria), June 2016, London.
Participated as expert panel member on behalf of European Commission SEC-GEN in stakeholder meeting EU policy on bioenergy post 2020, 12th May 2016, Brussels.
Participated in launch of Forest Yield Software at ICF Conference, April 2016, Newcastle.
Keynote address on behalf of FC Scotland at EU BioSTEP project stakeholder workshop, 19th October 2016, Glasgow.
Participated as invited expert in EC meeting, “Modelling EU bioenergy use: Supply/demand trends and climate change effects”, including making presentation on European Commission Project, “Carbon Impacts of Biomass Consumed in the EU”, 21st and 22nd April 2016, Ispra.
Participated in internal meeting of AEBIOM (European biomass industries group), including making a presentation on the outcome of the European Commission Project, “Carbon Impacts of Biomass Consumed in the EU”, 31st March 2016, Brussels.
Participate in internal NGO workshop on bioenergy and GHG emissions, including making an invited presentation, Brussels, 20th January 2016.
Participated in stakeholder workshop on EC DG ENER “Biosustain” project and (including making presentation on the outcome of the European Commission Project, “Carbon Impacts of Biomass Consumed in the EU”), 7th December 2015 Brussels.
Participated in International Stakeholder workshop organised for EC DG CLIMA project, “CLIMWOOD2030”, 28th October 2015, Brussels.
Participated as Expert Panel member in International Stakeholder workshop organised for EC DG ENV project, “Study of the Environmental Implications of the Increased Reliance of the European Union on Biomass for Energy Imported from North America”, 18th September 2015, Brussels.
Participated in “Carbon Summit” with representatives across departments of the Welsh Government, to advise on options for mitigating GHG emissions through forestry measures, and associated accounting systems, 25th June 2015, Cardiff.
Participated in Final Project Meeting (coordinator and lead for contractors’ side), of European Commission Project, “Carbon Impacts of Biomass Consumed in the EU”, 28th April 2015, Brussels.
Presented invited paper at plenary session of International Symposium on Forest and Sustainable Development organised by the University of Brasov, 24th-25th October 2014, Brasov
At the request of FC England, participated as technical expert in a meeting between DECC officials and representatives if UCL, to discuss representation of LULUCF in the UKTM energy sector model, for the development of the UK’s 5th Carbon Budget, August 2014, London.
Represent FR and Programme Group at external FC SIS Stakeholder Workshop, 28th May 2014, Edinburgh.
Presented findings of Task 1 report of European Commission Project, “Carbon Impacts of Biomass Consumed in the EU”, to International “CA-RES” meeting, 21st May, 2014, Dublin.
Presented at and participated in International Expert Meeting on accounting for GHG emissions of forest bioenergy organised by EEA, IEA Bioenergy Task 38 and IINAS, 19th-20th May 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark.
Participated in international peer review of 1990-2012 LULUCF GHG Inventory organised by DECC, 25th April 2014, Alice Holt.
Represented FR and Programme Group at external FC Workshop on the Woodland Carbon Code, 3rd April 2014, Edinburgh.
Regular participation with other colleagues from the Science Group at the Royal Welsh Show and the APF show.