The Fantastic Four

New Knowledge Exchange Projects to Promote the Future of UK Treescapes

Four new projects receive a share of £500,000 to boost the impact of the Future of UK Treescapes Programme.

Successful applicants to the third and final funding call of the UK Treescapes programme have now been announced. Each project aims to propel and amplify the impact of UK Treescapes’ research in unique ways. The projects are supported by a grant of up to £100,000 each, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Speaking on the innovative projects, Programme Co-Ambassador Dr Julie Urquhart said: “This is a significant step towards enhancing the resilience and expansion of UK treescapes while fostering collaboration between researchers and stakeholders. The projects will contribute valuable insights and practical solutions to the ongoing efforts of the Future of UK Treescapes Programme.”

The Tree of Knowledge (ToK): Communicating the Complexity of Forest Resilience

Project Lead: Dr Ruth Mitchell, DiversiTree and Dr Stephen Cavers, newLEAF and Dr Estrella Luna-Diez, MEMBRA

Species diversity, genetic diversity and epigenetic memory are complex, interacting topics that will play an important role in the future of treescapes. By bringing together findings from the three Future of UK Treescapes projects that are separately focussing on these issues – DiversiTree, newLEAF and MEMBRA – ToK will develop consistent messages and make them accessible to practitioners, policymakers and the public. The project is supported by a number of key organisations, including the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM), Confederation of Forest Industries (CONFOR) and the Woodland Trust.

Branching Beyond

Project Lead: Prof Jasper Kenter, Branching Out

The Branching Beyond team will collaborate with local authorities and the Local Government Association (LGA) to develop an online social and cultural values porting template. This user-friendly tool is designed for local authorities and community groups to better understand the values associated with treescapes in various policy contexts. The project will combine smart assessment of treescapes data with a participatory process in Camden and Edinburgh to validate and refine the data and template. Its aim is to enhance local urban treescape management.

Digital Voices of the Future: Children’s Visions of Future UK Treescapes Revealed Through Gaming

Project Lead: Dr Simon Carr, Voices of the Future

This project empowers children to envision the future of UK treescapes through online gaming. By developing interactive gaming environments, children can build and explore their ideas about both real and imagined treescapes and visualise the outcomes of their decisions. The project bridges between children’s perceptions and the environmental impacts of changing treescapes, aiming to foster deeper connections between tree planting plans, practice and today’s children and young people. Partnership with schools and The Mersey Forest ensures the project’s relevance and impact at local and regional levels, but offers potential to translate and scale up to a global level.

Future Treescapes in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty: Expansion and Resilience in the Chiltern Hills and Beyond

Project Lead: Dr Paddy Bullard

This knowledge exchange collaboration brings together seven existing Future of UK Treescapes projects to develop new research impacts in an important protected landscape: the Chiltern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The aim is to facilitate conversations between researchers, conservationists, stakeholders and land managers about how best to enhance woodland expansion, farming and sustainability in protected environments such as the Chilterns. We will then scale up our findings, making them available to the UK’s other forty five AONB organisations. This work includes the creation of educational materials and resources to support treescapes planning and management.

Programme Co-Ambassador, Professor Clive Potter said: “These projects bridge the gap between research and action, and the innovative approaches promise lasting impacts on the nation’s trees, forests, and woodlands.”

The funding call attracted applications from diverse disciplines and backgrounds, emphasising the importance of knowledge exchange in achieving the programme’s goals. The selected projects will run for up to 12 months, commencing by 1st November 2023. Further details regarding the successful projects can be found on the UK Treescapes website.