Social change in the National Forest

Do greener environments improve quality of life for residents and visitors?

People walking through wooded landscape (photo courtesy of the National Forest Company) Adults and children planting a tree (photo courtesy of the National Forest Company)









The National Forest is a vast forest in the making that is transforming central England. Six million new trees have increased woodland cover and rejuvenated the local economy. This project analysed the links between forest planting and social change, especially people’s perceptions of change and their motivations for getting involved in the project.

Key findings

  • Positive perception - most people closely associated the National Forest with improving environmental and economic conditions
  • Emerging identities – positive attitudes are leading to new identities associated with the Forest
  • Social interactions – the Forest provides places for more social activities and a greater sense of ‘connectedness’
  • Decision-making – the Forest is influencing local decision-making as discussions focus on the behaviour of Forest users
  • Access – the relationship between people and the Forest revolves around a sense of accessibility as people are encouraged to remember the area’s industrial past and to imagine its future
  • Changing economy – the Forest is catalysing cooperation between businesses and politicians

Reports and publications

Funding and Partners

Funded by the Forestry Commission

Research was undertaken by Lancaster University with support from the National Forest Company


This project was completed 2005.


Jake Morris