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Sustainable restoration of brownfield sites

Home research Sustainable restoration of brownfield sites


Brownfield sites are often host to hostile conditions which have to be overcome to successfully and sustainably establish greenspace. Soils are often characterised by compaction and poor structure, low organic matter and poor fertility associated with their previous use or method of reinstatement. They may exhibit poor winter drainage or, at the other extreme, severe summer droughtiness. Some sites may completely lack soil resources and require the use of soil-forming materials to simulate soil conditions. Other sites may pose restrictions to tree growth through the presence of landfill caps, contaminants or other pollution control measures. The key to creating effective and sustainable greenspace is to plan for and create the correct site conditions, prior to first planting, which will enable trees and other vegetation to reach maturity.


Research objectives

Forest Research is seeking to create and improve best practice on achieving sustainable restoration. We are currently investigating ways to:


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.


England Forestry Strategy

PDF, 1.35 MB

A New Focus for England's Woodlands. Strategic Priorities and Programmes.

Sustainable restoration of brownfield sites
In this section
Sustainable restoration of brownfield sites
Research Status
Research Groups
Tree health, Urban forests
Funding & partners
  • Forestry Commission
  • Department for Communities & Local Government

Related content


Contamination and integrated remediation of brownfield land

Research into integrated urban remediation and greening, phytoremediation and stabilisation, influence of vegetation on pollutant pathways, water quality, metal removal, organic contaminant removal and tree tolerance to heavy metals

Status completed