Future of UK Treescapes

Improving treescapes for the benefit of environment and society

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Expanding the UK’s treescapes is now widely seen as central to achieving the Government’s ambition to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. At the same time our trees, woods and forests need to become more resilient to pressures such as changing climate, disease, and competing land-use demands in order to reverse decades of decline in biodiversity and environmental quality.

Over the coming years, we will see one of the most dramatic increases in tree cover and forest planting in generations, with profound implications for biodiversity and landscapes throughout the country. However, questions remain about how best to do this in order to gain the most benefit – not only for the environment, but for society as a whole.

Where should woodland expansion take place and what should the new woodlands and forests look like?

What changes in government policy will be needed to encourage trees to be planted?

What role will farmers, foresters, conservationists and local communities play in managing and expanding the UK’s future treescapes?

How can we ensure that the benefits are shared across society and within communities?

Programme Aims

To improve environmental, socio-economic and cultural understandings of the functions and services provided by UK treescapes in order to inform future decisions on woodland expansion and improved safeguarding and management.


Joint working across the environmental, social sciences and arts and humanities in order to develop new insights into how our treescapes function and provide benefits for the environment, individuals and communities.


Bringing researchers, stakeholders and policymakers together to develop solutions that are effective, affordable and sustainable.


Taking a whole-systems approach to improving our understanding of treescapes as biophysical entities but also as cultural assets that are valued and appreciated in different ways by individuals and communities.

This interdisciplinary programme is led by the Natural Environment Research Council (UKRI-NERC) and jointly funded with the Arts & Humanities Research Council (UKRI-AHRC) and the Economic & Social Research Council (UKRI-ESRC), with contributions from Defra and the Welsh and Scottish governments.

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