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Increasing woodland cover is a priority for all three nations and there are now ambitious targets for woodland creation across Britain. This provides opportunities to restore degraded landscapes as well as a means of tackling the climate and biodiversity crises. However, there is a need for research to understand more about the best possible location for new woodland integrated with other land uses; the character and development of new woodlands and the range of benefits and services they provide over time, and the means by which land managers and others may achieve increased woodland cover that provides these expected benefits.
This programme will draw on past studies, complementary research in the other six programmes and in ongoing collaborative work, to untangle the complex interactions implicit in choices over location, extent and species and which lead to reliable options for multiple benefits, including carbon capture and improved biodiversity. The work will co-design or co-produce knowledge products and tools which support land managers, sector stakeholders and policy makers to increase engagement with woodland creation and expansion activities.
Examining who creates new woodlands, who might create new woodlands and what are the reasons for doing so? This will include investigating the decision-making context for land managers, including the perceived benefits and disbenefits of woodland creation and expansion and factors influencing their assessment of trade-offs in the provision of public goods.
Characterising where and how have new woodlands been created? This will include developing and testing methods for identifying the locations of existing Trees Outside Woodlands in rural and urban settings from remote sensing data to inform assessments of woodland creation.
Considering what benefits are new woodlands providing and when do you receive them? This will involve understanding the benefits of woodland creation on biodiversity and selected ecosystem services, including the success and development of woodlands created through ‘natural colonisation’ and ‘planting’.
Exploring where and how should new woodlands be created to maximise benefits? This will define a typology of land managers to be incorporated into the agent-based model and determine appropriate woodland creation and expansion scenarios.
In addition, to progress Woodland Creation and Expansion as a theme, rather than these four work areas, there will be collaboration with all science groups.
Work Area Co-Leads – David Edwards, Maddie Grady, Vanessa Burton, Matt Guy
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