Place-making and communities: a review of concepts, indicators, policy and practice

Cardiff city landscape with urban trees. Gorsedd Gardens Tower blocks through trees in snow at Callendar Wood Brass Bands Competition 2009. In association with the Yorkshire and Humberside Brass Band Association and the Forestry Commission. Kiveton Community Woodland a former colliery site


This review explores the UK government (including forestry-related) usage and definitions of terms or concepts related to the social and community benefits that can potentially be realised through accessible provision of green space, including woods and trees. These terms include:

  • Community empowerment
  • Community capacity
  • Community resilience
  • Community cohesion
  • Social capital
  • Place, place-making and place-shaping.

The review also explores current indicators that are used to measure achievement of these concepts. It highlights potential gaps in terms of appropriate indicators and future research requirements.

A second aspect to this research is an inventory of social evidence and practical programmes relating to trees, woods, forests and urban/peri-urban regeneration, place-making and place-shaping.

Research summary (PDF-374K)


  • Define key concepts relating to the potential community and place-making benefits which can potentialy be realised through  trees, woods and forests in the UK government context.
  • Explore the usage of these terms in UK government policy, including UK forest policy.
  • Identify current indicators used in the UK for their measurement and gaps in terms of applicable indicators in the UK forestry context.
  • Identify future research requirements.


The review highlighted that:

  • The prominence given to the different concepts varies between different countries and agencies and they are not always used to mean the same thing, especially with regards to the concept of ‘place’.
  • There are clear gaps in terms of indicators and measurement frameworks for the concepts discussed, although the level of this problem varies between the concepts, between the three countries, and between forestry and other policy areas.

It also revealed four key points relevant to forestry:

  • A full understanding and integration of the concept of ‘place’ has not occurred within UK public sector forestry and the concepts of community cohesion and social capital have received limited attention.
  • More work is needed to assess the applicability of a range of indicators in the forestry context. In the case of community capacity a lack of indicators is a common problem across government.
  • In terms of place, there is a lack of focus on measuring people’s perceptions of the places they live in and how this is enhanced or not by local woodlands and their relationships with woodland.
  • For those forestry programmes with a community and/or place-making agenda, the monitoring and evaluation has thus far been poor, with a lack of baseline date collected and a lack of robust monitoring and evaluation frameworks developed and implemented.


Cover of reportPlace-making and Communities: A review of concepts, indicators, policy and practice (PDF-923K)


For further information please contact:

Amy Stewart
Forest Research
Social and Economic Research Group
EH25 9SY