The UK framework for sustainable development, ‘One Future – Different Paths’ published in March 2005 set out five principles, which have been adopted by the UK Government, and each of the devolved administrations. Each of the principles puts society at the heart of sustainability.
- Living within environmental limits.
- Ensuring a strong, healthy and just society.
- Achieving a sustainable economy.
- Using sound science responsibly.
- Promoting good governance.
We recognised the social dimension of sustainable forestry and woodlands at an early stage, leading in 1998 to the development of a social research capacity in Forest Research that has continued to develop.
The organisation of the social research programme reflects the five principles, adapted to meet the particular needs of the Forestry Commission. The programme is designed around the following themes:
- learning from research and interpreting and communicating research findings;
- supporting communities;
- good governance in forestry and woodlands;
- applying social research in the Forestry Commission’s decision-making.
As our experience with social research has developed, our social researchers increasingly are working in cross-disciplinary teams and across the range of research carried out in Forest Research. We see this as a highly positive trend that allows the social implications of all our research to be considered both in the design and in the analysis phases.
Our social research has a strong focus on practice and relies on feedback from managers in the forestry and woodlands sector and from regular contact with diverse stakeholders in order to identify research questions and needs. We will continue to encourage the programme manager to maintain close links with staff at all levels in the four countries and to develop new relationships with key stakeholders in Government. We also wish to see the advisory role of our social scientists develop further, and for the Unit to be seen as a source of internal and external consultancy, especially where this will build capacity or expertise in the unit and in Forest Research.
Links to the social, economic development and urban greening research programmes are listed below.