PhD student Philip Harries is finalist for the Sustainable Swansea Award

The Sustainable Swansea Awards are a biennial award scheme in recognition of local organisations and projects making an active contribution and commitment to sound environmental practices and sustainable development in the Swansea area.

Sustainable Swansea AwardsThe winners of the 2012 awards were announced at an award ceremony held at the Swansea Marriott Hotel on 22nd March 2013. The night was opened with a keynote speech from Peter Davies, Chair of the Climate Change Commission for Wales and an alumnus of the Swansea University Geography Department.

Nominations were whittled down to three finalists in each of the eight categories, with the winner being announced ‘Oscar style’ after a brief presentation giving an overview of the nominated projects. Amongst the three finalists for the Biodiversity award was the Torgoch Project, involving Swansea University PhD student Philip Harries, who is supervised by Professors Stefan Doerr and Alayne Street-Perrott of the Department of Geography.

The Torgoch Project is being carried out in partnership with Sion Brackenbury, from the local conservation- management company Commons Vision Ltd.  It is using a novel, mobile, pilot-scale, fast pyrolysis/gasification unit designed by Dr. James Joyce of Black is Green Ltd., Australia, to produce biochar from invasive and/or infected plant biomass, such as invasive rhododendron, as a means of carbon sequestration.

An agonising wait for dramatic effect after the gold envelope was opened was followed by the announcement that the winner was ………..the Crwys Community Woodland Project. The agony was further compounded when it was revealed that the Torgoch Project had been knocked into second place by the narrowest of margins: only half a point!

Despite the disappointment the evening proved to be very enjoyable and a great success in bringing the project to the attention of a number of important, and supportive, individuals and organisations  at local and national level.