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Research Report
Amy Binner, Greg Smith, Ian Bateman, Brett Day, Matthew Agarwala, Amii Harwood
Woodlands and trees have a wide-ranging role in the economy but this is often under-valued in conventional economic indicators. For example, woodlands deliver social and environmental benefits – such as outdoor access, biodiversity and carbon sequestration – which are largely unpriced in economic transactions but which have important impacts on the economy and on society’s welfare. This review provides an overview of existing knowledge and evidence on the social and environmental outputs of forestry in Britain and identifies priorities for future research. It uses the concept of the ‘natural factory’ to explain how natural assets such as woodlands contribute to different economic production processes. It evaluates underpinning scientific research, economic valuation evidence, and provides a separate assessment for urban trees and woodlands. It also examines evidence needs relating to key developments in economic thinking and practice including natural capital accounting and a new generation of integrated decision support tools. Despite a substantial extant body of evidence, further research is needed to fill significant gaps in knowledge in order for the full economic contribution of woodlands to be understood.

A summary based on the full review is also available to download as a Research Note.

A4 | 120 pages | colour | online only
Stock code:FCRP027
Research Note
Pat Snowdon, Amy Binner, Greg Smith, Matthew Agarwala, Brett Day, Ian Bateman, Amii Harwood
This Research Note is based on a review by the University of Exeter that evaluated existing knowledge on valuing the social and environmental contributions of British trees and woodlands. It starts by bringing together different (but related) economic terms and concepts in a single framework for understanding how trees and woodlands contribute to economic well-being, then sets out some guiding principles that distinguish this area of study. Tables are used to categorise and to summarise the evidence base of the social and environmental contributions (including consideration of decision support tools and a separate assessment for urban trees). A further table summarises priorities for future research, both to fill gaps in understanding and to develop more advanced techniques and models. The Note concludes that much work has been done on valuing the flows of social and environmental goods and services from trees and woodlands in Britain. A substantial evidence base has developed, particularly in relation to open-access recreation and climate change mitigation. However, major gaps remain in other areas including the role of woodlands in flood alleviation, water quality, physical and mental health, and biodiversity. The Note highlights the need for sound underpinning science and the need for more integrated approaches to valuation, assessment and decision-making tools. Future research efforts should focus on areas where significant additions to existing evidence are realistic and where effort will provide the greatest benefits for policy and operational decision-making.

The full review undertaken by the University of Exeter is also available to download as a Research Report.

A4 | 10 pages | colour | online only
Stock code:FCRN027
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