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European Union Forest Action Plan workshop to share experiences on urban and peri-urban forestry

Trees and woodland in an urban settingVolunteers from the Fernhill estate, near Aberdare South Wales, undertaking footpath clearance behind houses in Llanwonno Forest. Coed y Cymoedd FD

The workshop was held on 28th January 2011 in Brussels, where Member State representatives, invited experts and stakeholders, as well as European Commission staff met to discuss their experiences of delivering urban and peri-urban forestry (UPF), explore its potential and identify recommendations for taking the UPF agenda forward in Europe.


Key Action 12 of the 2007-2011 European Union Forest Action Plan (EUFAP) proposed to ‘Explore the potential of urban and peri-urban forests’. Under this action, two activities were foreseen:

  • Review and integrate methodologies for evaluating the social and human impacts of urban and peri-urban forests in order to establish appropriate long-term indicators and robust frameworks to guide future investment and management.
  • Explore structures to engage local communities and non-traditional stakeholders in planning, creating, managing and using urban and peri-urban forests.

As a contribution to Key Action 12, the European Commission Directorate General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) invited Forest Research and the Forestry Commission to co-host a workshop with them, focusing on sharing experiences of UPF.


The objectives of the workshop were to:

  • Review and share current knowledge and understanding of structures, processes and information as well as management-decision making practices used in relation to UPF and their contribution to social and community agendas as well as their interlinkages with other policy areas such as climate change, biodiversity, urban development and urban regeneration
  • Identify remaining gaps in knowledge and understanding and propose further actions to complete the picture
  • Exchange experience of good practice in the policy-making, delivery and aftercare of UPF
  • Identify further opportunities for trans-national collaboration in the development of urban and peri-urban forests
  • Formulate recommendations for further actions that reflect the discussions and help to fill identified gaps so that the Standing Forestry Committee (SFC) is informed about what needs to happen, where, when and how.


The workshop began with an introduction to the history and importance of UPF in Europe and an opening address. The remainder of the workshop consisted of:

  • Three overview papers which established the context for discussions and the current evidence base
  • Five case study papers which explored how UPF has been delivered in different regions, countries, municipalities and cities across Europe (Lombardy, Italy; Vienna, Austria; Bristol, UK; Celeje, Slovenia; Stockholm, Sweden)
  • Two sessions devoted to experience and knowledge sharing, constructive debate and dialogue.

Workshop programme (PDF-16K)

Workshop papers and presentations

Themed overview papers

The three overview papers were led by Forest Research and the Forestry Commission of Great Britain but were collaborative efforts involving experts from across Europe.

The physical UPF resource in Europe

This paper established the common definition of UPF to be used throughout the workshop, explored information and data requirements, and identified the threats to, and constraints on UPF, such as climate change and pests and diseases. The paper concluded that the management of UPF is hindered by a lack of empirical data on the composition and character of the resource but that this problem could be overcome with only fairly minor amendments to existing processes and systems.

Paper: The physical UPF resource in Europe (PDF-334K)

The societal benefits of UPF in Europe

This paper described the main environmental, social and economic benefits (or ecosystem services) that UPF can provide to society, including improvements to the physical quality of the places where people live and enhancements to their quality of life. The paper also reviewed evidence relating to how these benefits can be realised in practice. It was concluded that there are numerous gaps in available evidence relating to UPF benefits but of particular importance is the need for the development and use of standardised systems to quantify or value the benefits or ecosystem services provision from UPF and for a better understanding to be gained about how exactly UPF should be designed and managed for benefit provision.

Paper: The societal benefits of UPF in Europe (PDF-104K)

The governance of UPF in Europe

Governance can be defined as the institutions, organisations, knowledge and processes involved in making policy and management decisions. UPF governance therefore refers to the structures, rules, partnerships and processes that shape decisions about urban and peri-urban trees and woodlands. This paper presented a conceptual framework for thinking about the governance of UPF. It concluded that there is real innovation and experimentation happening within UPF governance and there are great opportunities to learn from that. However, the governance on UPF is highly complex, involving many actors and a diverse body of legislation and policy and there is a need to ensure that integration across sectors, policies, projects, functions and staff engaged with UPF occurs.

Paper: The governance of UPF in Europe (PDF-86K)


The combination of FR/FC led overview papers, country case studies and facilitated discussion led to a lively and motivating exchange and a new awareness of the need to improve inventory standards for UPF across Europe, implement standardised valuation methods for benefits, better define peri-urban forestry, and promote urban forest governance as a framework for integration.

A number of recommendations were produced from the workshop and these were documented in the report of the meeting (PDF-55K).

The outcome of the workshop, including recommendations, was presented to the European Commission Standing Forestry Committee on 18th February, 2011.


Amy Stewart
Forest Research
Social and Economic Research Group
EH25 9SY

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