Dr Thomas Murphy

Dr Thomas Murphy

Industrial Research Fellow - Green Wall - Low Carbon Devon

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)



Early career researcher interested in the use of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to tackle local and global environmental issues. 
I am the Greenwall Industrial Research Fellow for the Low Carbon Devon project https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/sustainability-hub-low-carbon-devon


PhD - University of Plymouth & UK Environment Agency

  • Thesis title - Optimising oak woodland establishment into UK upland pastures in the context of climate change; and the role of oak woodland in soil hydrological recovery for natural flood management. . 
Bsc - Environmental science (Hons) with extended year. First Class. University of Plymouth:
  • Thesis title - Using a novel methodology to determine the environmental mechanisms governing the performance of native trees at an establishing woodland. 

Professional membership

British Society of Soil Science (BSSS)

British Ecological Society (BES)

Roles on external bodies

Moor Trees - Trustee, Science and monitoring, Vision, Carbon, Treasurer. https://moortrees.org/



Teaching interests

I lecture and support students on BSc Environmental Science/Environmental Management & Sustainability on modules: ENVS1008, ENVS1009, ENVS1010, ENVS2002, ENVS2004, ENVS3001/3, ENVM3001/3.

I lecture and support students on Foundation Environmental Science - Urban Ecosystems.

I supervise MSc Environmental consultancy and Sustainable Environmental Management projects. 

I supervise two PhD students - 



Research interests

Nature-based Solutions

I am an early career scientist, with an interest in applied plant-soil science for the use and management of nature-based solutions (NbS). My research experience focuses around woodland restoration for natural flood management (NFM) and optimisation of livingwall systems (LWS) and green infrastructure. My research themes cover net zero, biodiversity net gain and environmental management.

Whilst I have a particular passion for woodland restoration ecology and NFM, my research interests more broadly center around improving the effectiveness, implementation and management of nature-based/green engineering interventions through improved understanding of plant-soil-management interactions. 

My PhD looked at the impact of native woodland establishment on soil de-compaction and hydrology in UK uplands pasture and the soil hydrological and management constraints to oak woodland expansion. My current research examines the role of plant type and growth medium on the thermal efficiency and sustainability of livingwall systems (LWS) as part of the Low Carbon Devon project.

Participatory monitoring - I am interested to explore citizen science methodologies to foster science engagement and data collection and I have developed participatory monitoring approaches associated with native woodland creation.  

Multi-disciplinary - I am very keen to collaborate on projects which span subject boundaries and discipline divides to ensure research is impactful and solutions focused. I welcome opportunities to work together with partners from outside physical sciences.


Trees for Climate: An Emergency Help-guidehttps://treesforclimatenow.com/

Trees for Climate - Creative Associates 2021 - https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/institutes/sustainable-earth/creative-associates/trees-for-climate

Expanding Temperate Rainforests - https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/study-shows-how-temperate-rainforests-can-aid-the-fight-against-climate-change

Climate sciencehttps://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/future-rainfall-could-far-outweigh-current-climate-predictions-study-suggests

Native woodland - soil hydrology - https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/news/new-woodlands-can-help-reduce-flooding-risk-within-15-years

Other research

Moor Trees - Surveys and monitoring using citizen science - https://moortrees.org/our-work/woodland-surveys-and-research/

Grants & contracts

Murphy TR, Kelly C, Kilburn J. SEI Small Collaborative Award (2022) Mapping Treescape Narratives (MTN). £ 3,000.

Murphy TR, Smith D (2021) SEI Creative Associates - 'Trees for Climate: an emergency Help-guide' - https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/research/institutes/sustainable-earth/creative-associates/trees-for-climate . £4,000.

Murphy TR, Lunt P - Dartmoor Headwaters Project. Environment Agency. 2018. £18,000.

Murphy TR - Santander Seed-Corn Research Scholarship. 2017. £1,000.




Murphy TR, Hanley ME, Ellis JE, Lunt PH (in prep) Soil moisture thresholds influence oak regeneration in peaty UK upland pastures. 

Lunt PH, Fuller K, Fox M, Goodhew S, Murphy TR (2022) Comparing the thermal conductivity of three soil types under differing moisture and density conditions for use in green infrastructure. Soils Use & Management. https://doi.org/10.1111/sum.12841 (Open access)

Murphy TR, Hanley ME, Ellis JE, Lunt PH (2022) Optimising opportunities for oak woodland expansion into upland pastures. Ecological Solutions & Evidence, 3. e12126.   https://doi.org/10.1002/2688-8319.12126 (Open access)

Fox M, Morewood J, Murphy T, Lunt P, Goodhew S (2022) Living wall systems for improved thermal performance of existing buildings. Building and Environmenthttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.buildenv.2021.108491 (Open access)

Murphy TR, Hanley ME, Ellis JE, Lunt PH (2021) Native woodland establishment improves soil hydrological functioning in UK upland pastoral catchments. Land Degradation & Developmenthttps://doi.org/10.1002/ldr.3762 (Open Access)

Murphy TR, Hanley ME, Ellis JE, Lunt PH (2019) Deviation between projected and observed precipitation trends greater with altitude. Climate Research 79: 77-89. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01583

Presentations and posters

Murphy TR, Hanley M, Ellis J, Lunt P (2020) Factors affecting native oak establishment in UK upland pasture vary through early life history (Webinar presentation). Nature Based Solutions (NbS) – Digital dialogues www.nbsguidelines.info

Other Publications

Popular Science:

Murphy TR (2022) Restoring Forgotten Rainforests – The Case to Expand and Re-Connect ‘Atlantic’ Oak Woodlands - Moor Trees blog https://moortrees.org/restoring-forgotten-rainforests/

Murphy TR (2020) Ten year woodland surveys - Moor Trees Newsletter, Autumn edition, pp 5 (edited by Wisbey, N).

Murphy TR (2018) Wistmans wood – examing the response of oak trees to climate in a special woodland. Moor Trees Newsletter, Spring edition, pp 5.

Murphy TR (2015) Research on tree stress at Howton Down. Moor Trees Newsletter, Autumn edition, pp 4.



Reports & invited lectures

Murphy TR (2021) Native Woodland creation as a 'Nature-based Solution' - Nature based Solutions (NbS) - Future Plymouth 2030 webinar - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUIvwhkF3CQ&t=2435s

Murphy TR (2021) Optimising Greenwalls - Biodiversity & Carbon Sequestration - Future Plymouth 2030 webinar - https://www.futureplymouth2030.co.uk/webinars/7-biodiversity-carbon-sequestration

Murphy TR (2020) Moor Trees woodland surveys - Key note speech at Moor Trees Annual General Meeting - online.

Murphy TR (2020) Why plant trees? - Plymouth Tree Partnership (PTP). Sustainability Hub, Kirkby Lodge, Plymouth, UK.

Murphy TR (2019) Slowing the flow - conference speech. British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) Early Career Researcher (ECR) conference, Sheffield, UK. - Prize for best talk.

Murphy TR (2018) At the limits of growth? – Evidence for impacts of recent cimate change on the growth of Quercus robur in relic upland Atlantic oak woodland, Wistmans Wood, Dartmoor National Park. Journal of Ecosystem & Ecography 8: 45. World conference on Ecology, Berlin, Germany. doi:10.4172/2157-7625-C1-032.

Murphy TR (2016) Woodland & climate change - Key note speech at Moor Trees Annual General Meeting, Woodah farm, Devon, UK

Conferences organised

Grey to Green: Exploring opportunities for green roofs and walls - (1st November 2021) https://www.plymouth.ac.uk/whats-on/grey-to-green

Green Wall Practitioner Help Guide: 
A practical help guide event for all green wall practitioners - (5th October 2021)
Natural Flood Management day - (14th July 2019) -
Bringing climate change and natural flood management science to local stakeholders and hearing from flood affected residents. Venue - Buckfastleigh Town Hall - Support from Buckfastleigh Flood Action Group and UK Environment Agency.

Other academic activities

Woodland on Dartmoor (19th August 2018) - The potential benefits of woodland for Natural Flood Management. Venue - Dendles Waste - field trip to discuss climate change and land management in UK uplands - Support from Moor Trees (Moortrees.org).