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Social research and services

LOCAL COMMUNITY MEMBERS  WORKING IN CRAIGMONIE WOOD. DRUMNADROCHITDeveloping robust and cutting-edge social science research that demonstrates forest’s values to society and the wider environment, informs decisions and actions, and enhances sustainability with particular attention to providing social and environmental justice

Our philosophy and approach

We carry out research to develop a better understanding of the ways in which trees and woodlands can benefit society and how we make decisions about their creation, management and use. Our research is grounded in and contributing to theory, and applying and developing a range of approaches and methods.

Our research programmes includes individual-, community- and society-level perspectives of addressing public, private and cooperative land use and management issues. We carry out projects with/for the Forestry Commission as well as other national and international collaborators.

Why social issues are important

Social issues are a fundamental part of sustainable forest management. Different individuals, groups and organisations have diverse needs and expectations of trees and woodlands. People expect to have the opportunity to contribute to sustainable forestry decisions, and different kinds of knowledge feed into those decisions.

Furthermore, as the environment changes, society and institutions adapt and form new relationships around the resources that they use and manage.

Structure of our research

Stakeholders and processes need to be understood, balances between different needs and interests sought, and priorities set to ensure a sustainable relationship between society and woodlands.

We approach this through broad and interrelated programmes, which encompass increasing levels of complexity:

This research is performed by our Social and Economic Research Group which is part of our Centre for Human and Ecological Sciences and contribute to programmes in the following research areas:


Wild Ennerdale - Community consultationThe Social and Economic Research Group provide a range of social research services to the forestry sector including:

  • Advice on the design and conduct of social research
  • Research project design and management
  • Advice on social issues in forestry
  • Evaluation of social programmes.

Recent achievements

  • Seminar to develop understanding of the role of social science research in forestry
  • Conference, on Social Science Research into Woodlands and the Natural Environment.
  • Consultations in Scotland, England and Wales exploring the connections between woodlands and the natural environment and public health and well-being.
  • The publication of a tool box on public involvement in forest and woodland planning.


IconSocial research publications


For further information contact:

Dr Anna Lawrence