Tree_PlaNat: Stakeholder perceptions and socio-ecological consequences of Treescape expansion through Planting and Natural colonisation

Funded by Natural Environment Research Council.

Collaboration with Forest Research, Royal Holloway University of London, The National Forest Company, The Woodland Trust and University of Edinburgh.

Tree planting has been the most common woodland expansion strategy in the UK for decades. Despite its many benefits, this approach is increasingly questioned following overestimates of benefits, poor targeting and challenges in scaling-up tree planting at the level required to meet ambitious woodland expansion targets. Consequently, there is growing interest in incorporating socio-ecological processes such as ‘natural colonisation’ (allowing trees to colonise new areas naturally) into woodland expansion strategies, partly because it is assumed that naturally created woodlands will be more structurally diverse, ecologically complex and resilient than planted sites.

Embracing natural colonisation as a complementary approach to tree planting has the potential to radically transform UK treescapes and unlock woodland expansion at scale. Tree planting and natural colonisation may be used in complementary and blended combinations across a landscape, depending on the local conditions and the benefits expected. However, we know very little about the socio-ecological consequences of creating woodlands through approaches incorporating natural colonisation. We also have a poor understanding of land managers’ attitudes towards woodland creation approaches other than tree planting, and it is not clear which kinds of land managers do, or would, engage with woodland creation through alternative approaches incorporating natural colonisation, and why.

In this project we will explore agricultural land managers’ attitudes towards woodland creation strategies spanning the planting to natural colonisation continuum. We will also quantify the ecological and social consequences of these approaches, and identify factors associated with woodland resilience. Finally, we will integrate socio-ecological evidence to demonstrate how tree planting and natural colonisation can be used in combination to scale-up woodland expansion for a range of objectives on agricultural land.

Watch the TrE_PlaNat intro video here: https://www.uktreescape...rojects/tree_planat/

Total award value £505,511.00

People (3)


Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor
Dr Elisa Fuentes-Montemayor

Senior Lecturer- Nature-based Solutions, BES

Dr Thiago Silva
Dr Thiago Silva

Lecturer Environmental Informatics, Biological and Environmental Sciences

Professor Kirsty Park
Professor Kirsty Park

Professor, Biological and Environmental Sciences