Changing Treescapes project launches

The “Changing Treescapes” (TREESCAPES) project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) launches on 1st February 2020. This one-year project is a collaboration between the CCRI, Imperial College London and Kerry Morrison (artist), in association with Defra and the Black Environment Network (BEN).

The aim of TREESCAPES is to develop and pilot a new Socially Engaged Arts method to extend the results of social science research from a previous UKRI project, UNPICK (Understanding public risk in relation to tree health)1, by taking it to new audiences, including multicultural groups. It also aims to enable further impact by engaging with policy makers in creative new ways to translate the UNPICK findings and the arts research to better incorporate consideration of wider cultural values in existing policy frameworks and landscape decision-making, risk assessment and risk communication about tree health.

Julie in Utah in 2018 where she attended the ISSRM conference

The project lead, CCRI’s Senior Research Fellow Dr Julie Urquhart, said “Tree pest and disease epidemics have increased dramatically in recent decades, largely because of globalization, trade in plant material and wood packaging, human movement and climate change. These outbreaks are likely to have profound consequences on landscapes, and on ecosystem services and the wellbeing benefits provided by trees and woodlands.” However, policy and management for tree pests and disease generally rely on technical risk assessment techniques to guide action for preventing new incursions, detection of new outbreaks and management for control once a new pest becomes established. However, as findings from the UNPICK project suggest, there are likely to be broader social and cultural implications of pest outbreaks, including impacts on cultural values (including cultural ecosystem services), sense of place, wellbeing and place identity.

TREESCAPES will explore the potential role of arts research in revealing cultural values at risk from tree pests and diseases. As Dr Urquhart explains, “the project team brings together transdisciplinary researchers from across social science, environmental science and the arts. Working collaboratively, using a Socially Engaged Art approach, we aim to take the learnings of the UNPICK project to new audiences, including black, Asian and minority ethnic groups, in conversations and actions that allow people to reflect on and express what treescapes mean to them.”

The project team from the CCRI includes Dr Julie Urquhart (PI), Dr Jasmine Black and Prof Paul Courtney, Prof Clive Potter from Imperial College London and Dr Kerry Morrison, an environmental artist.

Full details regarding the project can be found on the TREESCAPES project page on the CCRI website.

1 The UNPICK project was funded jointly by a grant from the BBSRC, Defra, ESRC, the Forestry Commission, NERC and the Scottish Government, under the Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity Initiative (Grant Number BB/L012308/1) and was led by Prof Clive Potter, Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College London.