Organisational perspectives of the social and cultural values of woods

As part of the research interviews were also undertaken with professionals within the Forestry Commission, Forest Enterprise, The Mersey Forest, Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council and a Community Development Organisation.

Key issues that arose from interviews with representatives from these organisations included:

  • Providing public benefits and understanding what they are was seen to be a key focus across all organisations.
  • Adequate resources to manage existing areas, create new woodlands and increase public benefits were thought to be more widely needed.
  • Improving people’s quality of life and well-being was seen to be a significant concept in Sustainable Forest Management.
  • Involving people and sustaining participation were acknowledged as important though difficult. It was seen as vital to engage with publics in both urban and rural areas.
  • Partnerships between organisations and between organisations and communities were viewed as increasingly important and becoming more extensive.
  • The development of markets for value-added products and the use of local timber were issues thought to need greater consideration.

Sustainable forest management

This is the central aim of the UK National Forest Programme. Included within this are ideas of community participation: environmental decision-making in this view includes stakeholders and ordinary citizens in a process of debate.

This debate is conditioned by the values, beliefs and attitudes that people bring to it. Therefore it makes sense to investigate these, to find out how they vary. For that reason participatory approaches in decision-making are advocated as the mix of values and benefits people gain will be different in different areas.

The areas where the research was undertaken were Liverpool, Knowsley and Ambleside in the northwest and Southampton and Heathfield in the southeast:

Map showing woodland cover in Northwest and Southeast England and study locations
Woodland cover in northwest and southeast England and study locations