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This on-going research programme provides new insights into how to recognise and understand the value of ecosystem services (the goods and benefits) provided by trees and forests. This work aims to inform policy-makers and practitioners, helping them make decisions about tree and forest management in urban and rural areas.

The programme is being delivered by Forest Research, with guidance from representatives from across Great Britain.


Changes in tree and forest ecosystem service values

Our research has explored how values might change under different scenarios and visions, and different costs and benefits. For example:

1. Stakeholder analysis was used to develop five visions (options) for woodland expansion in Scotland based on different priorities. The visions each had a particular focus: Green Gold (productive woodland), Wild Woodlands (naturally regenerating native woodland), Native Networks (native, semi-natural woodland), Woodland Culture (community empowered management) and Multiple Benefits (right tree in the right place). Working in this way can help support more joined up and effective approaches to land use planning.

2. Several climate change adaptation options using different tree species are being explored to show where replanting with an alternative species is cost-effective from a climate change mitigation perspective.

3. Surveys on the expected costs and benefits of introducing practices to limit the introduction and spread of phytophthoras (fungal pathogens affecting trees) suggest that often measures are not considered cost-effective from the nursery’s perspective, limiting the potential for relying on a voluntary certification scheme to increase uptake by the sector.


Publications, papers and information on changes in tree and forest ecosystem service values

Strathard: a landscape to live, work and play

Comparing the cost-effectiveness of forestry options for climate change mitigation

Biodiversity and rotation length: economic models and ecological evidence

Biodiversity and rotation length

Developing multi-stand/CCF version of optimal rotation length prototype model

Understanding stakeholder visions for woodland expansion in Scotland

Mechanisms to deliver tree and forest ecosystem services

Our research has explored mechanisms for delivering tree and forest ecosystem services and examined land managers’ perspectives in relation to mechanisms. For example:

1. In-depth interviews with 44 land managers identified important networks related to (1) place, (2) management and associated institutions and (3) social and personal identity. Land manager networks help learning and knowledge sharing and are important routes to generate interest and traction for changes or new initiatives affecting forestry.

2. These interviews showed that many land managers are not familiar with the term ecosystem services or the concept of payments for ecosystem services. However, they do often recognise that their woodlands could provide a range of benefits to society.

3. An EU-funded research network (PESFOR-W) is currently gathering evidence on woodlands for water payment for ecosystem services schemes across its 40 member countries. This will include online publication of case study fact sheets. Examples include the creation of ‘Water Forests’ in Denmark for protection of drinking water quality – partly funded by also providing timber and recreation benefits. Another example is the payments for a range of benefits of planting trees in Italy, including increased infiltration for groundwater recharge.

Westonbirt Arboretum

Publications, papers and information on mechanisms to deliver tree and forest ecosystem services

Exploring land manager views of payments for ecosystem services, networks and learning

Behaviour of private land owners and managers

Payments for Ecosystem Services (Forest for Water)

Economics of risk and tipping points: approaches to valuing forest resilience

Insights from behavioural economics for ecosystem services valuation and sustainability

British Woodlands Survey

Land managers behaviour and forest resilience


Research objectives

This research falls under three objectives:

  • To develop and apply methods and tools for valuing the range of forest ecosystem services and benefits, and integrating different values
  • To understand and advise on the development of mechanisms (including governance arrangements) to deliver forest ecosystem services
  • To analyse changes in values for forest ecosystem services under a range of scenarios to inform management and woodland creation.


The research programme focuses on three key areas corresponding to the research objectives. Information and links to further details from the individual projects are provided for each topic:

1. Valuing tree and forest ecosystem services

2. Mechanisms to deliver tree and forest ecosystem services

3. Changes in tree and forest ecosystem service values


Funding & partners
  • Scottish Forestry, Forestry Commission England and Natural Resources Wales
Valuing and governing tree and forest ecosystem services
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Valuing and governing tree and forest ecosystem services