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Understanding the public value of Trees outside Woodlands: Peri-Urban and Rural (ToWPUR)

Research Status:current


This project will gather evidence to better understand the social and cultural value of Trees outside Woodlands in peri-urban and rural areas (ToWPUR). ToWPUR make up a large proportion of woodland cover in England (~30%) yet remain an understudied part of English treescapes.

The England Tree Planting Programme (ETPP) looks set to dramatically change the rate of woodland creation and expansion in coming years. By addressing the evidence gap around public values and ToWPUR, this research will support the ambitions of the ETPP while feeding into a variety of policy aims relating to the societal benefits and impact of tree-planting.

Research objectives

  1. Better understand the social and cultural value of ToWPUR amongst a range of publics, especially in relation to tree planting and establishment.
  2. Build an interdisciplinary understanding of the value of ToWPUR through close working with the project’s natural science counterpart (The ecological function of Trees outside Woodland).
  3. Provide evidence relating to social and cultural values to inform policy, research, and management of ToWPUR.

Latest updates

This is year one of a 2.5 year project and is set to finish in March 2025.

We are currently summarising existing evidence and forming the research methodology. We are pooling existing evidence using a variety of interdisciplinary methods, including:

  • A literature review covering the social and cultural value of trees outside of woodlands
  • Secondary data analysis from a partner project that investigated public engagement with nature during the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Working with an external contractor to develop outputs that contribute an arts and humanities perspective and demonstrate the importance of this when considering the social and cultural values of ToWPUR.

This evidence will be used to develop a prototype value framework that will be tested in the next stage of the project.

Our Involvement

Forest Research is leading this research project and working in collaboration with Defra.

The Project Advisory Group includes:

  • Defra
  • Tree Council
  • Arboricultural Association
  • Welsh Government
  • Scottish Forestry
  • Natural England
  • Forestry Commission
  • University of Exeter
  • University of Leeds
Funding & partners
  • Defra logoFunded by DEFRA under the Nature for Climate Fund in support of the England Tree Planting Programme.
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Status current