Dr. Shawn Russell is the head of Treborth botanical gardens, which is part of Bangor University. He is a specialist in mosses, fungi, lichen and liverworts and has spent a large part of his career in the south of Chile, around the Cape Horn region.
His main work whilst in Cape Horn has been with the Cape Horn miniature forest, which is the conservation and raising the awareness of the different epiphyte species that are found in the Cape Horn.
This work has resulted in the development of an educational sector, with various books and scientific articles being written about the area. A significant ecotourism trade has also been started, resulting in the development of tours and identification courses that has improved the local economy thanks to the jobs provided and the money that is being brought in by tourists.
A protected area that is the size of Wales has also been created in order to ensure that the miniature forest remains as healthy as possible for the generations to come. The international interest in the biosphere has resulted in a £10 million grant being awarded to allow the development of the Cape Horn Sub Atlantic Research Centre for the next 3 years.
There will be several main areas of focus for the research centre, such as developing training courses for visiting and local scientists and surveying the surrounding marine and terrestrial ecosystems to observe the structure and health of them, as overfishing is a big concern in the marine areas.
The research centre has links with both Bangor University and Magalanes University. These links allow for funding and research opportunities for scientists from both institutions.
I found this seminar incredibly useful in showing me the possibilities when looking at a future in ecology based research, especially as an ecology student. This seminar has encouraged me to undertake some research in becoming a research scientist, as I have had an interest in conservation ecology for some time now and the opportunities available are something that I should look into.