Public engagement in forestry


The purpose of this research is to investigate the diversity of ways members of the public can become involved in the governance and management of woods and forests, and to provide good practice guidance and case study material that supports foresters and others facilitate greater public involvement.

Research objectives

  1. Synthesise information about successful public engagement approaches useful to foresters, woodland managers and managers of urban greenspace
  2. Provide evidence describing the potential for approaches to engage different sections of society in a variety of rural and urban contexts
  3. Illustrate the suitability of engagement approaches in different areas of forestry, e.g. decision making related to recreation and access, pests and diseases, or the development of enterprise and social enterprise

Results so far

The research to date has:

  • Produced a “toolkit” of practical techniques for involving people in forestry
  • Provided guidance on the principles of public engagement
  • Described ways to overcome the challenges of engagement in urban forests
  • Scoped the use of social media by government and forestry agencies as an emerging engagement tool
  • Investigated social media support engaging people in citizen science projects
  • Documented a range of public engagement case studies


  • This research started in 2011 and ends in 2015.
  • Development of methods for public engagement in urban forestry is on-going
  • Additional research into the impacts of social media and digital technologies on Citizen Science and Citizen Cyberscience is ongoing.



Dr Bianca Ambrose-Oji

Funders and partners

This work is funded by the Forestry Commission

Forestry Commission policy 

Public engagement is included in the Scottish Forest Strategy through a commitment to public consultation enabling the public to have input into local and national plans and strategies, and through partnership working with communities.

In England the Government’s Forestry Policy Statement recognises that civil society organisations and the wider public all have a role to play in achieving aspirations around woodland creation and management, tree health, and economic development of the forestry sector.