About our research into people, trees and woodlands


Livelihoods: Harvesting team having a break and an on-site meeting
Education: Child making an observation at a Forest School

Links between trees and woodland and the environmental, economic and social aspects of our lives are wide-ranging. For example, woods can contribute to human well-being by:

  • Providing natural restorative spaces
  • Providing jobs
  • Giving people the opportunity to develop new skills and meet new friends.

Research programmes, related topics, products and services, forthcoming events and contact information


Sustainable development emphasises the need to consider social, as well as economic and environmental concerns in forestry. Social issues are therefore a fundamental part of sustainable forest management.

Different individuals, groups and organisations within society have diverse needs and expectations of trees and woodlands. Increasingly, they also expect to have an opportunity to contribute to sustainable forestry decisions. Research into ‘People, Trees and Woodlands’ therefore seeks to engage with people to understand the current and potential contribution of forestry to contemporary society.

Research objectives

Our research aims to develop an understanding about the relationships between forestry and society by concentrating on the social dimension of sustainable forest management and using qualitative and quantitative research methods in social science.

We aim to develop and disseminate understanding about the relationships between people and forestry so as to enable the development of guidance and good practice on the social contexts of forestry.

Research programmes

Research methods

We conduct our research using qualitative, quantitatitve and mixed methods approaches.  We have a particularly strong reputation for our qualitative work and expertise in action research.  Our professional conduct is guided by the GSR guidelines, and we have our own detailed statement of research ethics and practice.

Social and Economic Research Group Statement of Research Ethics (PDF-380K)

Forestry Commission policy

Forestry Commission logo
The Forestry Commission wants to understand links between trees, woodlands and society to enable them to increase the benefits people receive from trees and woodlands, in both rural and urban environments. It seeks to deliver these benefits through  Sustainable Forest Management policies and practices. Research into ‘People, Trees and Woodlands’ develops understanding which helps to guide the development of sustainable forestry policies and practices.