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More woodland for the London Greenbelt



We’ve always worked in Urban Forestry. As well as seeing the many benefits that trees in the built environment bring. We also firmly believe them to be an integral part of the UK’s woodland environment. However, much of our work is rooted in rural issues and “traditional” forestry work. It’s rare that we get to work in that fascinating interface of rural and urban. That hinterland where conurbations give way to verdant landscapes.


Spring 2023 the Council for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) gave us an opportunity to work in this area. Specifically, in the Green Belt surrounding London that is protected from development. With our long-term partners at Lantern Environmental we worked with CPRE to develop the marketing and advocacy for woodland creation in this area. How do we persuade multiple user groups and customer segments within the Green Belt that tree planting is not only a good thing but vital to the green belt itself?


Our approach


Whilst it was critical to look at the policy, subsidy and strategy landscape that governs much of the opportunity for tree planting. We also wanted to take a wider approach and CPRE encouraged us to dig deeper into the market analysis. We were especially interested in what happens abroad. Which cities have been successful in major tree planting programmes? What worked (or didn’t work) for them? This, combined with an in-depth look at the UK’s peri-urban community forest programme, provided our framework.


We coupled the framework with a review of customer segments in the London Green Belt. As well as with the landowners, local authorities, environmental groups, and residents. What would really excite them all and help them plant more trees?


Combining past examples, the segmentation work, and our 20+ years’ experience in landscape-scale treescape development we could propose what promotional tools might be most applicable to each segment. We could also recommend what might generate the impetus for more woodland creation within the different segments. This provided the evidence base and framework for a full marketing strategy. After all, messages that peak the interest of a local authority might not be the same messages that are needed to bring a private landowner on a tree-planting journey.


Where next


The work has led to CPRE’s proposal for the expansion of community forestry around the Green Belt in London. An ambitious target of a ring of trees surrounding London has brought the client national press coverage. Beyond this, the project has given us a deeper insight into the opportunities and issues of woodland in the urban/rural interface.


The advocacy project is part of a wider series of landscape-scale forest development in and around London funded by the Heritage Lottery ‘Trees Call to Action Fund’ (TCAF). The project supports the delivery of the London Urban Forest Plan. It is also part of a wider series of our urban work with Lantern investigating how efficiencies can be made to bring inner-city woodland into better management. See our work with Cardiff City Council for similar work we have done linking in urban timber supply chains. We also have a project with Lesnes Abbey Woods, London to share.. watch this space.










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