Sustainable restoration of brownfield sites


Brownfield sites are often host to hostile conditions which have to be overcome to successfully and sustainably establish greenspace. Soils are often characterised by compaction and poor structure, low organic matter and poor fertility associated with their previous use or method of reinstatement. They may exhibit poor winter drainage or, at the other extreme, severe summer droughtiness. Some sites may completely lack soil resources and require the use of soil-forming materials to simulate soil conditions. Other sites may pose restrictions to tree growth through the presence of landfill caps, contaminants or other pollution control measures. The key to creating effective and sustainable greenspace is to plan for and create the correct site conditions, prior to first planting, which will enable trees and other vegetation to reach maturity. 

Integrated Remediation, Reclamation and Greenspace Creation on Brownfield Land (PDF-576K)
SUBR:IM bulletin 11

Research objectives

Forest Research is seeking to create and improve best practice on achieving sustainable restoration. We are currently investigating ways to:

This work is in addition to our research on Contamination and integrated remediation.

Funders and partners

The main funders and partners of this research are:

Forestry Commission policy

Use of land degraded by former industrial and urban activity makes an increasingly important contribution to the expansion of woodland. Trees planted on such sites offer immense social benefits in addition to the possibility of economic activity on formerly unproductive land. This programme supports the related objectives of the English Forestry Strategy and across Great Britain generally.


The research is ongoing.


For more information contact:

Kieron Doick
Land Regeneration and Urban Greening Team
Forest Research
Alice Holt Lodge
Surrey GU10 4LH