The Open University, in partnership with Forest Research and Treeconomics, has recognised the need to better educate people about the role of trees in the community, and the neccessity of involving citizens in their protection and conservation. In June 2013, the partnership launched treezilla. In February 2016, the ViTAL project received NERC funding to expand the functionality and coverage of treezilla.

Research Objectives

treezilla is a free, online multi-purpose platform designed to support tree-related science projects as part of the Open Science Laboratory in the Science Faculty of the Open University. The objective is to create an online map of all the trees in the UK that can be used for 5 types of activity: Education, Outreach, Research, Inventory and Biological Surveillance.


This project began in June 2013 and is ongoing.


Kieron Doick

Related resources



Funders and partners

This work is part-funded by the Forestry Commission, in partnership with the Open University and Treeconomics.

Forestry Commission policy

Climate change represents a significant threat to urban infrastructure, environmental quality and the health of city dwellers. Green infrastructure is itself at risk through greater extremes in temperature fluctuation, consequent flourishing of tree pests and diseases, drought and perceived increased risk of subsidence leading to tree removal.

There is no clear system for determining the biophysical interactions, benefits, or managing potential trade-offs within a risk-benefit context, so as to optimally support the protection and sustainable regeneration of UK towns and cities. The Urban Trees and Greenspace in a Changing Climate Programme intends to develop such a system through consolidating and building upon existing work to provide the evidence base for urban trees, definition and communication of best practice guidance, and robust assessment, evaluation and dissemination tools so that the risks and benefits of urban tree placement can be more fully assessed by society, policy makers and planners.

The Programme also maintains the centre of excellence which FR has developed over several decades on land regeneration practices to establish and maintain urban greenspaces on former brownfield and contaminated sites.

Urban trees and greenspace in a changing climate