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tree strategies

Local authority tree strategies are recognised by the UK government and key stakeholders as an important contributor to effective management of the country’s tree resource. This research aims to understand the processes, drivers and barriers to development and implementation of these strategies. The findings will help inform Defra in developing best practice guidance for local authorities looking to produce tree strategies as part of their response to the climate and biodiversity emergencies.

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Research objectives

  • To understand the processes, drivers and barriers to local authority tree strategy development and implementation.
  • To identify key steps and support tools that could be incorporated in a toolkit to support local authorities to develop and implement tree strategies.
  • To understand the extent to which the themes of tree health and biosecurity are considered in tree strategies.

Latest updates

In 2021/22 we are applying our evidence and continuing collaborative working with local authorities to support the production of the guidance mentioned in the England Trees Action Plan (Action 1.12).

Workshops undertaken with local authorities in 2020/21 discussed perspectives at Metropolitan, County, District, Borough and Parish level, and the importance of cooperation and buy-in to strategies between and across different kinds of authority. Workshops highlighted local authority recognition of the urgency and need to accelerate tree planting, woodland creation, and appropriate management strategies for aging and diseased stock. Areas where knowledge, systems and processes were uncertain or needed coordination in the development and implementation of tree strategies were described. The need for “teeth” in terms of legislation or national policy supporting the need for tree strategies was also emphasised.

Interviews undertaken in 2019/20 showed that the development and political adoption of tree strategies was often initiated in response to a threat, e.g. climate change or ash dieback. Having a strategy can then provide a means to leveraging resources and budget for tree work. Barriers to tree strategy development and/or implementation were highlighted, including siloed departmental working, lack of resources, conflicting local authority objectives and duties.

Our Involvement

This project is part of Future Proofing Plant Health funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra). It is led by Fera in partnership with Forest Research and the Tree Council.


Bianca Ambrose-Oji

Kieron Doick

Funding & partners
  • Defra
  • Fera logoFera
  • tree council logoThe Tree Council

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Bianca Ambrose-Oji

Science group leader