Connected treescapes: a portfolio approach for delivering multiple public benefits from UK treescapes

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Mathematics and Statistics


Our project will address the role of landscape-level partnerships in delivering public benefits from UK treescapes. It will show 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 associated with a range of anthropogenic and environmental stressors.

We will focus on three public benefits that link to current policy ambitions for treescapes: (i) biodiversity, ecosystem function and nature recovery; (ii) nature connectedness, mental health and wellbeing; and (iii) cultural and heritage benefits. We will combine UK-level analysis with a focus on five community forests in the rural-urban continuum, where treescapes have great potential societal benefits but face considerable environmental pressures.

We will use connectivity and connectedness as themes to integrate our work across biodiversity, health and wellbeing, and culture and heritage. Landscape connectivity is an important concept underpinning the enhancement of treescapes for biodiversity and nature recovery, although it can also increase vulnerability to pests and diseases. Connectivity is crucial for recognizing cultural ties to trees and woodlands, and inequalities in power and ownership, which have shaped the history of UK treescapes, and provide opportunities and constraints around future treescape development. Connectedness with treescapes is also important for mental health and wellbeing, and as a vehicle to improve pro-nature behaviours.

Through six inter-linked work packages, we will integrate historical and ecological approaches with applied health science and economic analysis. We will combine empirical data collection with modelling of existing data to deliver new understanding of how UK treescape management decisions are shaped and constrained by histories of land use and ownership, traditions of management, and changing expectations of treescapes.

We will contribute to the success of landscape-level treescapes in delivering UK policy objectives and providing public benefits by informing on how to balance these expected future benefits with risk and uncertainty in their delivery. The scale of policy ambitions means they can only be met through more coordinated management across different landowners. We will therefore explore analytically how management decisions for treescapes take account of the various ecological, socio-economic and cultural contexts to deliver a range of public benefits at landscape level, incorporating the interdependencies and potentially competing objectives of landowners. Our work will show how treescape decisions and collaboration between landowners can be influenced by different policy and regulatory mechanisms. In doing so, it will inform the design of government incentives for enhancing landscape-level collaborative management that will reduce uncertainty and enhance connectivity and benefits from treescapes in the future.

Our project will work closely with stakeholders in the case study sites and at UK level, involving them in co-designing our research process and co-developing outputs. These outputs will include a multi-component toolkit, which will include policy-type briefs, historical narratives, illustrative case studies, links to local walks on the Go Jauntly app that highlight histories, biodiversity and connectedness, and an analytical decision support tool for visioning the synergies and trade-offs between different benefits within a treescape 'portfolio'. The toolkit will inform policy-makers, local authorities, rural communities and private owners on treescape management for public benefits.

Our project addresses all three themes of the Future of UK Treescapes programme, and will lead to recommendations for managing current treescapes, and creating future ones, that are biodiverse and resilient, and can deliver a wide range of economic and societal benefits for current and future generations.


10 25 50