Funding opportunity

Funding opportunity: Future of UK Treescapes: enhancing the impact of research

Apply for funding to undertake knowledge exchange activities to accelerate and amplify the impact of research from the Future of UK Treescapes programme.

You must be based at a UK research organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding. You do not need to have previously received programme funding. We welcome applications from diverse groups of applicants.

You should build on or complement existing knowledge exchange activities and explore novel ways of engaging stakeholders in project co-design or co-delivery.

The full economic cost your project can be up to £100,000. We will fund 80% of the full economic cost. A range of project sizes will be supported.

Projects can run up to 12 months and must start by 1 November 2023.

Who can apply

NERC is administering this funding opportunity on behalf of all the funders. We welcome applications from across all the disciplines represented by the Future of UK Treescapes programme including environmental science, economics, social science, art and humanities.

Before applying to NERC for funding, please check the following:

This funding opportunity is open to eligible researchers at:

  • higher education institutions
  • research council institutes
  • approved independent research organisations
  • public sector research establishments
  • Catapults

Principal and co-investigators must meet our standard eligibility criteria, as outlined in the NERC grants handbook and web pages. You do not need to have previously received programme funding.

Principal investigators based outside the UK are not permitted. Co-investigators must be based in the UK, with 2 exceptions:

  • co-investigators based in the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) and in eligible organisations in Norway can be included under specific agreements:
  • all other international collaborators or UK partners (including those from business or financial sectors) not based at approved organisations, should be included as project partners and fund their own involvement. We will only fund minor incidental expenses, such as some travel costs, if required for project partners

Principal investigators and co-investigators may be involved in no more than 2 applications submitted to this funding opportunity. However, they may only apply as the principal investigator on 1 application.

The inclusion of researcher co-investigators is encouraged where they have made a substantial intellectual contribution to the development of the application and will be engaged with the ensuing knowledge exchange activities.

We encourage multidisciplinary research and collaborations with other UK organisations. Other international and non-academic collaborators can be involved as project partners. You should collaborate with stakeholders with an interest in the delivery of treescape expansion or treescape resilience in the UK (see the ‘what we’re looking for’ section).

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

UKRI is committed to achieving equity of opportunity for all funding applicants. We encourage applications from a diverse range of applicants.

We support people to work in a way that suits their personal circumstances. This includes:

  • career breaks
  • support for people with caring responsibilities
  • flexible working
  • alternative working patterns

Find out more about EDI at UKRI and NERC’s diversity and inclusion action plan.

What we're looking for

The Future of UK Treescapes is an interdisciplinary and high impact research programme. It seeks to improve the environmental, socio-economic and cultural understandings of the functions and services provided by UK treescapes.

The programme seeks to improve the evidence base for decision-making and generate resources and tools for stakeholders. This will support the expansion and resilience of UK trees, woods and forests for the benefit of the environment and society.

The programme has funded a portfolio of research projects and fellowships. They are expected to:

  • significantly improve our understanding of the form and function of existing treescapes
  • explore alternative pathways to treescape expansion
  • identify measures that could enhance treescape resilience in the face of global change

Two programme ambassadors have also been funded to lead programme-level external communication and stakeholder engagement as well as to facilitate internal coordination between funded projects.

This funding opportunity aims to fund a portfolio of knowledge exchange projects designed to accelerate and amplify the reach and impact of funded research from the Future of UK Treescapes programme with diverse external stakeholders including policymakers and practitioners.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the funded research projects and the ambassadors to discuss knowledge exchange needs at the project or programme level before starting to develop their application (see the ‘contact details’ section).

Application requirements

Complementarity and added value

You should describe clearly how you will build on or complement knowledge exchange activities with external stakeholders being delivered by the funded research projects and the programme ambassadors’ team. This will maximise the added value of knowledge exchange projects and ensure effective translation of research outputs to help drive through long term impact of the programme.

While we welcome applicants to engage with funded treescapes fellows, applications should primarily seek to increase the impact of funded research projects.

You should describe the type and scale of knowledge exchange you believe is required to help deliver treescapes expansion and improve their resilience in the UK at different scales and over different time periods.

A clear programme of work for knowledge exchange should be set out that could include a range of activities and approaches targeting different stakeholders. Approaches include, but are not limited to:

  • drawing together and synthesising outputs from multiple research projects around specific themes or topics where synergies or overlap exist. This could involve production of overview and synthesis articles, policy and practice notes to capture and share the range of generalisable and more specific local knowledge contributions being generated from the funded projects. For example, improved cultural understandings of different stakeholders and publics and their varying perspectives on treescape expansion and resilience
  • exploring new and dynamic ways for policymakers at different levels in the UK (including devolved administrations) and the Future of UK Treescapes research community to exchange information, ideas and understandings. You should articulate how you would facilitate the (often bespoke) types of knowledge exchange that will be required to facilitate treescape expansion and improve resilience including altering incentive structures and behaviours
  • helping landowners, commercial and charitable organisations, and the public with the practical challenges of applying the Future of UK Treescapes research outputs. Such groups often make key on-the-ground decisions about where and what to plant and how treescapes will be managed to ensure their long-term resilience. For example, testing ways to improve the access of stakeholders to the data sets and insights generated by the programme, and testing the extent to which these outputs are used effectively by stakeholders

We welcome engagement and leadership from all research areas and fields of practice that are relevant to creating an effective knowledge exchange approach and sharing outputs. These might include specialists and professionals in areas such as (but are not limited to):

  • communication
  • public engagement
  • IT
  • design

You should make the case for the composition of the project team and the relevance and application of your expertise.

Stakeholder engagement and co-design

Applicants are expected to co-design or co-deliver the project with at least 1 stakeholder organisation. Key stakeholders include (but are not limited to):

  • Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and associated bodies
  • the devolved administrations
  • local authorities
  • landowners or managers
  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • local community groups
  • general public

We particularly encourage applications that aim to explore novel ways of engaging stakeholders who have low levels of engagement with the Future of UK Treescapes programme at present including, for example, the commercial forestry sector.

It is expected that stakeholder project partners will help shape the application to ensure the outputs meet a specific need, contributing to ‘real world’ action or decision making, and will collaborate with the project team throughout the duration of the grant.

Applications must set out in the ‘case for support’ the anticipated impacts and outcomes of the proposed knowledge exchange project for their audiences, for example, policymakers. This should specifically outline the intended beneficiaries and how impact will be achieved and maximised.

Funding available and implementation

Projects must start by 1 November 2023 and have a duration of no longer than 12 months.

The maximum funding per project is £100,000 (at 100% full economic cost). We will usually fund 80% of the project’s full economic cost. There is no minimum award size. The funders are looking to support a range of small and larger projects under this funding opportunity.

To enable effective participation at events organised by the programme ambassadors, you should budget appropriate UK travel and subsistence costs for at least:

  • one two-day programme conference
  • one other one-day programme event

Equipment (individual items over £10,000 inclusive of VAT) cost is ineligible under this funding opportunity.

Project partner and sub-contract costs

Stakeholders collaborating in the proposed knowledge exchange project should be named as formal project partners. They should have an integral role in the project and provide significant in kind or in cash contributions to the project.

Project partners: participating organisations not meeting the criteria to be a research organisation and co-investigator can be project partners on the awards based on the following requirements:

  • third sector organisations, NGOs, charities and other non-profit civil society organisations (not meeting the minimum requirements for research partner organisations) can be included on applications as project partners and are eligible to receive a contribution towards travel and subsistence costs from the award
  • government departments and business, overseas and UK government departments and businesses should be engaged where appropriate but are not eligible to directly receive funds on the awards

Dual roles: an organisation or individual may act as both a project partner and subcontractor, however this must be fully justified and will be subject to peer review. Project partner related costs are expected to be minor. Where the project needs work to be undertaken that is more significant and includes costs other than travel and subsistence, then the organisation or individual may need to be included as both a project partner and a subcontractor.

Sub contracts: funds requested for all sub-contracts should be included as ‘other directly incurred’ and 80% of any sub-contract costs would be funded. The funders would not normally expect the total sub-contract costs to exceed 20% of the total funds requested at 100% full economic cost but exceptions could be considered. You should contact NERC ( if you have queries regarding sub-contract costs including requests to exceed 20% of total funds requested.

Programme management

The Programme Executive Board (PEB) provides the strategic direction for the programme and will be the ultimate decision-making authority. The PEB includes representatives from all funders.

The programme has an independent Programme Advisory Board (PAB) that provides strategic advice to the programme ambassadors to ensure delivery of the programme objectives.

Programme ambassadors and programme-wide knowledge exchange

The role of the programme ambassadors is largely an external facing role with the following responsibilities:

  • external communication of the programme and engagement with key stakeholders
  • coordination and integration of funded projects
  • monitoring and reporting of programme delivery progress
  • organisation of programme events including annual programme conferences

Along with individual project knowledge exchange activities, the ambassadors will coordinate impact activities to maximise the impact of the awards and of the programme as a whole. All funded projects, including the knowledge exchange grants from this funding opportunity, will be required to engage with the programme ambassadors and attend programme events organised by the ambassadors and funders.

Reporting requirements

Successful applicants will be required to report research outcomes on ResearchFish in line with standard UKRI terms and conditions. This is required annually and continues for up to 5 years post grant end. For details, see reporting your project’s outcomes.

Grant holders may also be asked to provide additional project progress reports to the programme ambassadors, the PEB or PAB as needed.

Responsible innovation

Through our funding, we want to make a positive contribution to society and the environment. We will achieve this through research outcomes and the way in which research is conducted.

If you are successful, you will need to adopt responsible research practices, as set out in UKRI’s responsible research policy and the NERC responsible business statement.

Responsible research is defined as reducing harm or enhancing benefit on the environment and society through effective management of research activities and facilities. Specifically, this covers:

  • the natural environment
  • the local community
  • diversity and inclusion

Grant holders should consider responsible research context of their project, not the host institution as a whole, and take action to enhance their responsible research approach where practical and reasonable.

How to apply

You must apply using the Joint Electronic Submission (Je-S) system.

You can find advice on completing your application in:

We recommend you start your application early.

Your host organisation will also be able to provide advice and guidance.

Submitting your application

Before starting an application, you will need to log in or create an account in Je-S.

All investigators involved in the project need to be registered on Je-S.

Any investigators who do not have a Je-S account must register for 1 at least 7 working days before the opportunity deadline.

When applying:

  1. Select ‘documents’, then ‘new document’.
  2. Select ‘call search’.
  3. To find the opportunity, search for: treescapes KE.

This will populate:

  • council: NERC
  • document type: standard proposal
  • scheme: directed
  • call/type/mode: treescapes KE

Once you have completed your application, make sure you ‘submit document’.

You can save completed details in Je-S at any time and return to continue your application later.


NERC must receive your application by 25 May 2023 at 4:00pm.

You will not be able to apply after this time. Please leave enough time for your proposal to pass through your organisation’s Je-S submission route before this date.

You should ensure you are aware of and follow any internal institutional deadlines that may be in place.


Your application must also include the following attachments:

  • case for support: 5 pages maximum in total. Up to 1 page on the team’s capability to deliver. Up to 4 pages on project description including expected impacts and added value of the project, intended beneficiaries and how impact will be achieved and maximised, and the extent of stakeholder engagement in project design or delivery
  • project partner letters of support: 2 pages maximum per letter, describing the involvement and inputs from formal project partners. Note that general letters of support are not required
  • justification of resources: 1 page maximum
  • cover letter (optional): 1 page maximum. If you need to alert the funder to any relevant conflicts of interest that we may not be aware of please submit a cover letter. You should only submit a cover letter for this purpose. This document will not be shared with the assessment panel

No other documents should be submitted.

How we will assess your application

Your proposal will be considered by an assessment panel, consisting of independent experts across the disciplinary breadth of the programme and experience in knowledge exchange.

Applications will be assessed and given a single score which will be based on the following criteria:

  • potential impact and added value of knowledge exchange activities
  • extent of stakeholder engagement, co-design or co-delivery
  • capability to deliver

NERC, AHRC and ESRC will use the recommendations of the assessment panel along with the overall funding opportunity requirements and the available budget in making the final funding decisions. The funders reserve the right to use the recommendations to create a balanced portfolio.


We will give feedback on the outcome of your application.

We reserve the right to modify the assessment process as needed. For example, in the event of receiving many applications, we may hold a sift process.

Principles of assessment

UKRI supports the San Francisco declaration on research assessment and recognises the relationship between research assessment and research integrity.

Find out about the UKRI principles of assessment and decision making.

Sharing data with co-funders

NERC, as part of UKRI, will need to share the application (including any personal information that it contains) with AHRC and ESRC so that they can participate in the assessment process.

All UKRI councils follow the same data protection policy.

Contact details

Get help with developing your application

For help on costings and writing your application, please contact your research office. Allow enough time for your organisation’s submission process.

Get help with applying through Je-S

Contact the Je-S helpdesk

Ask about this funding opportunity

For all enquiries, please contact the Future of UK Treescapes programme team:

Contact the Future of UK Treescapes programme ambassadors

For further information about the overall programme and current programme-level knowledge exchange activities, please contact the Future of UK Treescapes programme ambassadors:

Contact the Future of UK Treescapes funded projects

For further information about individual funded projects and current project-specific knowledge exchange activities, please contact the relevant project contacts listed on the Future of UK Treescapes programme website.

Additional info

Future of UK Treescapes programme websites

For further information about the Future of UK Treescapes programme including funded projects, please visit the UKRI programme web page and the external programme website.

Global Talent visa

International researchers and specialists who are named, or have their position listed, on a successful grant may be eligible for the Global Talent visa.

Reporting requirements

If you are successful in getting funding, you will need to report your research outcomes through a service called Researchfish. This is required annually and continues for up to 5 years after funding ends. Find out about UKRI reporting requirements.

COVID-19 impacts

UKRI recognises that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused major interruptions and disruptions across our communities. We are committed to ensuring that individual applicants and their wider team, including partners and networks, are not penalised for any disruption to their careers such as:

  • breaks and delays
  • disruptive working patterns and conditions
  • the loss of ongoing work
  • role changes that may have been caused by the pandemic

Reviewers and panel members will be advised to consider the unequal impacts of the impact that COVID-19 related disruption might have had on the track record and career development of those individuals included in the application. They will be asked to consider the capability of the applicant and their wider team to deliver the research they are proposing.

Where disruptions have occurred you can highlight this within your application, if you wish, but there is no requirement to detail the specific circumstances that caused the disruption.

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