Appointment of Future of UK Treescapes Ambassadors

Oak tree

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) are pleased to announce the appointment of ambassadors to its Future of Treescapes research programme.

Professor Clive Potter of Imperial College London and Dr Julie Urquhart of the University of Gloucestershire will be joint Ambassadors, playing a central role in ensuring the programme is highly visible profile and successfully delivered.

The Future of UK Treescapes programme aims to advance understanding of the type and scale of woodland planting and forest establishment that will be needed in the UK to address the complex challenges of climate change and build resilience, promote ecosystem restoration and safeguard tree health, and respond to socio-economic and cultural drivers.

Advancing understanding

The programme is jointly funded by NERC, AHRC and ESRC with contributions from Defra and the Welsh and Scottish governments.

Playing a central role in the planning, positioning and delivery of this ambitious new initiative, the Ambassadors will work with research project teams to promote a shared sense of interdisciplinary endeavour and to facilitate extensive engagement with stakeholders and policymakers.

As programme ambassadors, they will be responsible for bringing the research to the attention of policymakers and other stakeholders and influencers including the public, and for promoting the knowledge exchange that will be essential if the work is to achieve maximum impact.

Championing environmental research

Professor Potter and Dr Urquhart each have established track records as interdisciplinary researchers and will bring to their roles as Ambassadors an understanding of how to convene projects which span the natural and social sciences, economics and the arts and humanities.

They have an extensive knowledge of the relevant policy and stakeholder communities and of the benefits and challenges of designing and delivering truly interdisciplinary research projects.

The ambassadors will be setting out their vision for the programme and engaging with diverse research communities at a number of online events in October organised by the funders.

AHRC are hosting two online workshops on 8 October and 13 October 2020. A NERC-led programme webinar (20 October 2020, am) and an ESRC-led workshop (20 October 2020, pm) are also being held with details on the NERC and ESRC websites and via email alerts in the coming days.

Addressing climate change

Professor Clive Potter said:

I’m excited to be involved in such an important and potentially path-breaking research programme at a critical moment for trees, woods and forests in the UK. The programme will be vital in laying fresh knowledge foundations for the woodland expansion that is central to the Government’s plans to combat climate change. It should also greatly enrich our understanding and appreciation of the social, economic and cultural importance of trees, woods and forests in society.

Bringing researchers from different disciplines together is going to be key if the outputs from the programme are to speak to the complex nature of our treescapes. There is a great opportunity here to design and fund projects involving new types of collaboration between scientists and scholars and to involve the farmers, foresters and others land managers who will actually plant and manage the treescapes of the future.

Dr Julie Urquhart said:

Our shared vision for the Future of UK Treescape programme is one in which understandings of where tree expansion should take place, what it will look like, who should deliver it and how it can most cost effectively be achieved are informed by excellent science but also investigated from the perspectives and drawing on the insights of the whole stakeholder community.

I’m very much looking forward to help bring about the innovative stakeholder engagement and sorts of knowledge exchanges that we both hope will be hallmarks of this new programme.

Excellence in research

Professor Susan Waldron, Director of Research and Skills at NERC said:

I’m delighted that Professor Potter and Dr Urquhart will be joining the Future of UK Treescapes programme. They will provide vital leadership to the programme, and support research projects that are improving our understanding of woodlands and forests. Treescapes play an important role addressing challenges such as climate change, and will contribute to the UK meeting its ambitious net zero and biodiversity targets.

Further information

Find out more about the Future of UK Treescapes programme.

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