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This project aims to investigate opportunities to improve the sustainability of urban greenspace establishment on derelict and brownfield land.

Research objectives

The research addresses the following sectors:

Findings and Recommendations

Well designed, constructed and managed greenspace established on reclaimed brownfield land brings a wide range of public and environmental benefits. When the processes of site assessment, design and planning, remediation, soil formation and species choice are adopted collectively the sustainable regeneration of sites and is achievable and cost effective.

Vegetation influences the pathways by which pollutants interact with susceptible receptors, including by reducing erosion, trapping and absorbing airborne pollutant particles and retaining sediment.

The use of trees to restore heavy metal values to within acceptable limits may be possible for low to moderate levels of contamination, but unlikely if contamination is moderate to high. Trees remove the bioavailable metal fraction, which is the most important in terms of minimising transfer of pollutants to crops or to groundwater.


Kieron Doick

Forestry Commission Policy

Use of land degraded by former industrial and urban activity makes an increasingly important contribution to the expansion of woodland. Trees planted on such sites offer immense social benefits in addition to the possibility of economic activity on formerly unproductive land. This programme supports the related objectives of the English Forestry Strategy and across Great Britain generally.


English Forestry Strategy

PDF, 1.35 MB

A New Focus for England's Woodlands. Strategic priorities and programmes.

Funding & partners
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of Reading
  • Babtie
  • Channel Tunnel Rail Link
  • Churngold
  • Forestry Commission
  • London Development Agency
  • Southern Water