to Forestry Commission home page
to Forest Research home page
Forest Research home > Research > People, trees and woodlands

Forestry, sustainable behaviours and behaviour change

Tree planting using vole and rabbit guards, Hicks lodgeWood chips for woodfuel.Jeskyns volunteers building tree nursery


Behaviour and behaviour change are important elements of current government policy across a broad range of areas, including transport, health, environment and energy. Drawing on knowledge from disciplines such as psychology, economics and increasingly sociology, it is argued that a systematic understanding of human behaviour can identify key motivations and drivers and that policy makers can use this information to design interventions that more effectively promote and maintain positive (e.g. healthy, sustainable) behaviours. 

Influencing behaviour is not a new concept for forestry. A great deal of relevant activity is already taking place, supported by a range of interventions such as grants, regulation, programmes, projects, and promotional campaigns that are aimed at encouraging certain types of behaviour. However, to date, Forestry Commission (FC) and wider forestry sector activity has not explicitly adopted the language, concepts, theories and models emerging from the field of behaviour and behaviour change. In response to central government’s growing interest in behaviour and behaviour change, the FC wishes to explore how insights from this field might be applied to improve the design and implementation of forestry interventions.

About our research

Behaviour and behaviour change is a topic that cuts across a lot of the work carried out by the Social and Economic Research Group (SERG) at Forest Research. Much of SERG’s research over the past decade has focused on understanding the behaviours, perceptions and attitudes of a range of stakeholder groups, from woodland users, to woodland managers and a broad range of partner organisations. SERG has also carried out evaluations of interventions run by the FC and its partners to determine how they impact on behaviour, attitudes and preferences. Much of this research has focused on how people’s behaviour changes through interactions with the physical woodland environment, and on the different kinds of behaviour that support sustainable forest management.  Moving forwards, SERG is engaged in research to explore how insights from policy, practice and academic research that focuses on behaviour and behaviour change can be used to inform the design of more effective interventions within the forestry sector.

Research exploring the implications of behaviour and behaviour change for the forestry sector in the UK

Examples of research projects with a behavioural focus


Jake Morris