Dr Hirons completed his BSc (Hons) in Arboriculture in 2003 at Myerscough College. After working in the arboricultural industry, including spells in the USA and Australia, he returned to Myerscough as a Lecturer. Alongside his lecturing job, he also developed his scholarship and research skills by completing his PhD (Lancaster University) in 2013. His PhD investigation focused on the physiology of trees experiencing water deficits. This, combined with a shared interest in tree selection has led to an ongoing international collaboration with Dr Henrik Sjöman that seeks to use trait based datasets to better inform urban tree selection.
The basis of this work involved determining the drought tolerance of trees by assessing osmotic potential of tree leaves when fully hydrated, as this is closely related to the point at which a species will no longer recover from wilting. This information, along with other traits, can then be used to inform which species are appropriate for challenging urban environments.
In 2015, Dr. Hirons together with Lancaster University, was successful in securing a bid to the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), for a Green Infrastructure Innovation Project to develop guidance based on these physiological measurements.
Following the research, Dr. Hirons and collaborators have now produced ‘Tree Species Selection for Green Infrastructure: A Guide for Specifiers’. This digital guidance is available for all professions involved in specifying tree species to help them select a wider range of possibilities and should, over time, help improve the resilience of urban forests across the UK and internationally through Europe and beyond.
Additionally, Dr. Hirons has recently delivered a worldwide webinar on the research with over 1,000 views. TREE Fund Webinar – He has also co-authored a text book with Peter Thomas (Keele University) entitled “Applied Tree Biology”.