Anthropogenic processes and waste management

Michael J Cullis

Remediation of Anthropogenic Processes: The focus in land reclamation has changed in recent years from recycling land for uses considered sustainable, such as industrial or recreational, towards providing solutions that are self-sustaining. Restoring a landscape through natural processes and where ultimately, it is capable of looking after itself, is undoubtedly beneficial from a local community perspective. Land degradation is commonplace along the South Wales Coalfield and while often referred to officially as ‘reclaimed’, most areas continue to actively degrade. 

Damaged Forestation:  Over a period of decades the forests of Bohemia have suffered from humanity’s drive for energy and resources. Such patterns of demand have inflicted severe damage to these forests, mainly caused by acid precipitation resulting, in the main, from coal fired power stations. The research involves investigation into how these forests can be protected from such sources; evaluating a more sustainable approach to the re-instatement of these ‘lungs of our Earth’.

Waste Resource Management: Research to provide insights and understanding of how SMEs perceive the challenges of climate change on their businesses. Importantly the work will emphasise the issues surrounding waste resource management techniques applicable to small businesses. A mix of quantitative and qualitative data collection would be required to achieve this.

Persistent Marine Debris: Investigating persistent marine debris, a constant problem along the Gower shoreline. Studies have highlighted local problems and this proposal will provide a more thorough understanding of the ways in which the system operates. It will be developed by analysing litter from its source, through its various transport pathways, to its final sink.

Mike Cullis: I am responsible for instigating a joint research project with Oxford Brookes University; examining remediation of anthropogenic processes. The focus here being land reclamation, which has changed in recent years from recycling land for uses considered sustainable. Our work involves restoring a landscape through natural processes and where ultimately, it is capable of looking after itself, beneficial from a local community perspective.

In 2005 I successfully put forward an application for our School to become part of the Welsh Consortia For Industrial Training Group (CIT), a Pan Wales consortia whose aim was to generate knowledge and training on Sustainable Constructed Environments. I solely organised a number of training initiatives at the University, on key sustainable construction and environmental challenges; for instance, sustainable coastal environments, habitats for bats, urban sustainability, governance of our environment, fire protection in buildings and designing out waste from construction.

I have successfully supervised some 20 post graduate research projects and jointly written 8 final project proposals presented to CIWM/Defra for possible funding, achieving more than 87% success.

Funders of research include: Chartered Institute of Wastes Management & Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Welsh Government and European Convergence.

Plamping, K., Haigh, M., Cullis, M. J., Jenkins, R. E., (2008) Evaluation of Cambial Electrical Resistance (CER) for the Appraisal of Tree Vitality on Reclaimed Coal Lands, International Journal of Mining, Reclamation and Environment:

Cambium electrical resistance (CER) is explored as a rapid-assessment method of measuring of forest vitality and disease damage. A five year study in a 10-year-old mixed plantation of Alder (Alnus glutinosa, L.) and Oak (Quercus petraea (Mattuschka) Liebl.) created for the reclamation of surface-coal mined land in South Wales found a negative correlation between CER and tree maturity and no correlation between CER and fertiliser treatment levels.


Haigh, M., Reed, H., Flege A., D’aucourt, M., Plamping, K., Cullis, M., Woodruffe, P., Sawyer, S., Panhuis, W., Wilding, G., Farrugia, F., Powell, S., (2013) Effect of planting method on the growth of Alnus glutinosa and Quercus petraea in compacted opencast coal-mine spoils, south Wales Land Degradation and Development, (DOI: 10.1002/ldr.2201):

Land degradation on officially ‘reclaimed’ opencast coal-mine sites is a widespread problem in South Wales. This project explores methods suitable for use by community volunteers seeking to effect local environmental improvement by restoring geoecological self-sustainability on lands that are commonly affected by extreme auto-compaction and low soil nutrient status. This paper describes a formally established 7-year experiment designed to assess the effect of three alternative tree planting strategies used in the forestation of such lands.


Williams, A.T., Pond, K., Ergin, A., and M.J., Cullis, 2013. The Hazards of Beach Litter, (in), Coastal Hazards, (ed.), Charles Finkl, 753-780, Springer Dordrecht Heidelberg New York London:

Marine and beach litter include items that have been made and discarded into the marine environment by people. Over the past few decades concern has been growing regarding the amounts of litter that accumulate on beaches and seas. Litter issues have become very widespread of late due to public awareness and concern for environmental issues. Beach litter is sourced from three areas: marine, industrial and domestic wastes dumped at sea and riverine and beach litter. Such debris mars beach enjoyment, has safety implications (e.g. glass, syringes), needs cultural, attitudinal changes in order to reduce and prevent waste reaching both sea, and beaches.