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Dr Tijana Blanusa

Tijana leads the Ecosystem Services Research Programme, identifying the structural and functional traits of plants that can be isolated, optimised and employed to benefit the wider environment

What do you do?

I lead and deliver RHS research on the environmental benefits of gardens and urban green infrastructure. I am particularly interested in the contribution of plants to urban cooling, rainfall mitigation and air quality improvement. We are working to understand what underlying plant traits are most successful at this so that these plants can be harnessed to deliver multiple benefits.

My post is based at the University of Reading (School of Agriculture, Policy and Development) where I teach a Part 3 / MSc module on Green Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services and supervise undergraduates, masters and PhD students.

“I take a lot of pleasure in collaborating scientifically. Collaborations take goodwill, compromise and mutual understanding, but bring so much in return – both professionally and personally.”

Why is your team’s research important?

My research provides information to gardeners about the beneficial effects of plants in their gardens both to themselves and the wider environment. I hope it encourages them to keep as much of their garden as green as possible.
 
My research highlights how a ‘humble’ hedge can provide so many benefits – protection from noise, improving air quality, reducing flooding risk and benefitting biodiversity. It also gives guidance on what plant characteristics you need in your planting to maximise those benefits.

Projects I’m working on now

  • Hedges and the provision of multiple ecosystem services that they provide
  • Watering strategies for house plants
  • Green walls and biodiversity: investigating green walls for invertebrate abundance and diversity
  • Investigating the impact of plants on indoor air quality: a multi-scale, cross-disciplinary approach (PhD)
  • Maximising the environmental benefits of gardens through optimal planting choices and understanding of occupants’ engagement (PhD)
  • The impact of plants on the design of healthy office environments (PhD)

Completed projects

  • Encouraging garden plants’ establishment through root manipulation techniques (2003–07)
  • Optimising water use in containers with bedding plants (2006–09)
  • Environmental benefits of domestic gardens (2008–12)
  • Gardens and cooling: the importance of plant choice (2010–15)
  • Importance of plant traits for runoff reduction on green roofs (2013–18)

Achievements

I have supervised to completion more than five PhD students and 15 MSc students.

Publications

Get involved

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s leading gardening charity. We aim to enrich everyone’s life through plants, and make the UK a greener and more beautiful place.