The need to expand and better safeguard our treescapes has never been clearer. This first set of projects will break new ground in exploring how they function and what needs to be done to have more of them in places and at scales that truly benefit the natural environment and society as a whole. Each of the funded projects is distinct, both in terms of the focus of the work that will be done and the combinations of disciplines that have been brought together. The UK Treescapes Ambassadors are particularly excited by the potential they have to combine environmental sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities in new ways in order to bring fresh perspectives on this important topic and are looking forward to working with the project teams to bring the research to the attention of policymakers, stakeholders and the wider public.
Call 2 and the Treescapes Collaborator Finder
A second research call will be announced in the autumn, with the aim of commissioning a further set of projects. It is expected that second call projects will be designed and delivered in collaboration with stakeholders, and complement those funded under the first call. They are likely to involve action-focused research, delivering evidence to enable government, land managers and civil society to achieve appropriate treescape expansion towards net zero targets, nature recovery goals and societal benefits.
UK Treescapes are today launching an online collaborator finder on the website to help researchers and stakeholders interested in developing a proposal for the second call to find and contact potential partners. More details of the projects successful in the first call will be shared on the website soon.
The successful projects
Connected treescapes: a portfolio approach for delivering multiple public benefits from UK treescapes in the rural-urban continuum
Led by Professor Piran White and Dr Julia Touza from the University of York, with researchers from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, the universities of Strathclyde, Newcastle, Derby, Edinburgh, Forest Research and James Hutton Institute. Partners are The Tree Council, The National Forest Company, The Mersey Forest Partnership, Woodland Trust Northern Ireland, Buccleuch Living Heritage Trust and Estates, Dufferin Foundation, Rothamsted Research and Butterfly Conservation.
Connected Treescapes will evaluate how treescape form and function affects public benefits. Focusing on five community forests, it will address the role of landscape-level partnerships in delivering public benefits from UK treescapes. It will demonstrate how decision-makers and those responsible for treescapes can ensure that these benefits can be secured for the future, in the context of increasing uncertainty. Integrating historical and ecological approaches with applied health science and economic analysis the project will provide evidence of how UK treescape management decisions are being defined and constrained by past histories of land use and ownership, traditions of management, and changing expectations of treescapes. It will also look to the future by demonstrating how collaboration and decision making around treescapes can be influenced through policy and regulation.
Voices of the future: Collaborating with children and young people to re-imagine Treescapes
Led by Professor Kate Pahl from Manchester Metropolitan University, with the universities of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cambridge, Cumbria, Middlesex and Sheffield. Partners include the Community Forests, (Manchester City of Trees and Mersey Forest), Natural England, the Chartered College of Teachers, Early Education Outdoors, The Children’s Society and Aberdeen City Council, Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and the Station House Media Unit in Aberdeen
‘Voices of the Future’ brings together a set of partnerships with local, regional and national organisations including early years’ contexts, primary and secondary schools, Natural England and the Community Forests to explore how young people perceive and connect with treescapes and how they can participate in changing the present and imagining the future of treescapes. It aims to bring together children and young people’s knowledge, experiences, and hopes with innovative scientific expertise of how trees adapt to and mitigate climate change. The project will advance new approaches to creating and caring for resilient treescapes that benefit the environment and society to inform educational policies, teacher education, urban planning and treescapes design.
Branching Out: New Routes to Valuing Urban Treescapes
Led by Professor Michael Wilson from Loughborough University, with partners from the Open University, University of York and Forest Research
Branching Out will focus on urban treescapes to respond to the increased tree planting targets of local authorities, recognising the need for them to achieve multiple public benefits alongside carbon sequestration, including health and wellbeing, green infrastructure, social amenity and the green economy outcomes. The project will use storytelling as a key method for capturing the social and cultural values of trees, alongside a range of other approaches to understanding urban treescapes, including urban tree observatories, hyperspectral remote sensing, historic mapping and computer vision techniques, amenity modelling, and citizen science in order to develop the largest, most robust urban tree monitoring dataset anywhere in Europe.
MEMBRA: Understanding Memory of UK Treescapes for Better Resilience and Adaptation
Led by Dr Estrella Luna-Diez from the University of Birmingham, with the universities of Exeter, Leeds, Leicester and Bangor. Partners include The Walking Forest artist collective, Forestry England, The National Forest Company, Small Woods and Coed Lleol (Small Woods Wales).
MEMBRA will study how trees can adapt to stress alongside using the concept of memory to integrate a sciences-and-humanities perspective on how best to enhance the resilience of UK Treescapes. The project will demonstrate experimentally whether and how trees can remember past stress conditions and transfer these memories to descendants through epigenetics-based DNA modifications. This new awareness will also advance our understanding as to how an appreciation of tree-memory, and the language of memory, can influence human decision-making capabilities and our moral relationship with treescapes.
Creative Adaptive Solutions for Treescapes Of Rivers (CASTOR)
Led by Dr Matthew Dennis from the University of Manchester, with partners from the universities of Manchester, Cumbria, Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham and Salford.
CASTOR identifies that over 200,000 km of rivers and streams in England, with potential for restoring riparian woodland, present a substantial opportunity for meeting the UK government’s goal of 17% tree cover by 2050, achieving carbon storage and sequestration, water quality amelioration, habitat creation and flood prevention in the process. It will explore and provide solutions to the challenges that this restoration might present. CASTOR will identify unique opportunities through which riparian woodland (along rivers and waterways) can promote and protect natural and cultural heritage, deliver nature recovery through wilder, better connected landscapes, and build climate resilience.
Learning to adapt to an uncertain future: linking genes, trees, people and processes for more resilient treescapes (newLEAF)
Led by Dr Stephen Cavers from the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, with partners from the universities of York, Strathcylde, Stirling and Glasgow, the Robert Gordon University, the James Hutton Institute and Forest Research.
NewLEAF takes an interdisciplinary approach to answering how quickly tree species can genetically adapt to change in the wild, whether or not human intervention is needed to accelerate adaptation in tree populations, and how best to intervene if so. Drawing together an academic team with expertise in ecology, evolutionary biology, forest pathology, epidemiology, economics, social science, data science, mathematics and the arts, newLEAF will draw on evidence from the UK and abroad, from places where historical and current regeneration of tree populations is being shaped by human activity and climatic change.
Treescape Ambassador Team