Future Treescapes 22

Future Treescapes 22, held on 22nd September 2022 at Imperial College London, ignited conversations around our woods, forests and treescapes between some of the brightest minds working in this field. This was the first conference from the Future of UK Treescapes Programme and was an opportunity where six new newly funded research projects were officially launched.

Starting the day on a high, the conference opened with a British tree-themed folk tale – One Tree Hill, from Patrick Ryan, a Storyteller working with the Branching Out project team who are exploring our values and attitudes to our treescapes. 

This was followed by the keynote address, by Sir Harry Studholme, Former Chair of the Forestry Commission, Forester and Honorary Professor at the University of Exeter, who highlighted: “The more we learn about trees the more there is to learn. Sound [research] is critical to solving the plethora of new problems thrown up by a changing climate. We need [it] to question conventional wisdom and be unafraid to come to unpopular conclusions.”

The conference was hosted by the Co-Ambassadors of the Future of UK Treescapes Programme, Dr Julie Urquhart of the Countryside & Community Research Institute, University of Gloucestershire, and Professor Clive Potter, Imperial College London. It provided a platform for the six phase-one projects, which have been running since August 2021, to highlight their latest achievements. In addition, the conference launched six new major research projects that have just been awarded a share of £3 million in funding from UK Research and Innovation (more details below).

Spotlighting the bright young minds in the UK, the conference heard an emotive plea from Mahmud and Hamid, two youth leaders working with the Voices of the Future Project who arrived in this country as refugees: “We have one planet and we need to think beyond the UK, we need to think about the whole world if we are to make a difference.”

Bringing the conversations back home, the day concluded with discussions about what we can learn from our history with trees, forests and woodlands, and how we can work together to build a greener, wilder future for our society.

Regarding the conference, Julie Urquhart said “The conference was a great opportunity for a diverse community of researchers from environmental science, social science and arts and humanities to meet and discuss the challenges of treescape expansion and to explore how research from the programme’s projects will support policymakers and land managers to manage, protect and expand UK treescapes.”

Conference delegates took the opportunity to network

Six innovative new projects funded as part of Call Two

These new major research projects will now begin their work exploring the most effective ways to expand the UK’s trees, hedgerows, woodlands and forests in rural and urban settings, which we reported about in a previous news article.

Professor Clive Potter, Professor of Environmental Policy at Imperial College London and joint Ambassador for the Future of Treescapes programme said:

“This further set of projects will expand and help refine the work already being conducted via the Call One projects. I’m looking forward to welcoming the new teams into the treescapes research community and working with them to deliver research that will directly inform how we achieve the Government’s ambitions for trees, woods and forests in this country.”

Involving multi-disciplinary teams led by six research institutes, the studies are part of the £15.6 million Future of UK Treescapes programme. Full details of the six studies can be found on the Future of UK Treescapes website.

Footage from the event can now be viewed on the Future of UK Treescapes YouTube channel.