Research Strategy 2019-24

The Fund4Trees Research Strategy provides a focus for our research supporting sustainable treescapes. It covers a five-year period from 2019-2024. It guides how we commission research, provides a focus for the awarding of grants and bursaries, and informs our communications. The strategy arose from a meeting held at Royal Botanic Gardens Kew in July 2018, attended by trustees and expert members of our Research Advisory Committee.

Key Themes:

Our research focus is on three interlinked themes: planning for trees in green infrastructure, ensuring successful tree establishment, leading to the delivery of multiple benefits to society and the environment.

1. Green Infrastructure

The ever-diminishing availability of open space within our built environment means that there is an increasing need for grey, blue and green infrastructure (GI) to be better integrated, both with each other and with the other features and functions of the urban realm. Trees are an integral element of GI and key to the delivery of the ecosystem services that are being used as an argument to secure budgets and justify inclusion of GI in urban design. Despite this, evidence suggests delivery mechanisms continue to fail to secure successful establishment and compatible longevity of our urban treescape.

1.1     Exploring interest among stakeholders for the inclusion of trees in new developments.

1.2     Quantifying performance of current legislative controls assessing areas such as interpretation, administration, compliance and effectiveness.

1.3     Quantifying current and potential future roles for arboriculture in the wider green infrastructure sector.

2. Tree establishment in urban environments

Anecdotal evidence indicates that many trees planted in the urban environment either fail to establish or lack the potential to develop into large-canopied specimens. Research is needed to quantify the scale of this problem, identify the causes and potential solutions, to ensure that the funds invested in future planting deliver value for money and provide the ecosystem service benefits intended. 

2.1     Genetic selections and tree resilience, especially relating to nursery practice, and decision mapping among practitioners.

2.2     Quantifying adoption of best practice (BS:8545) and implications for success/failure in urban tree establishment.

2.3     Urban tree planting success rates.

2.4     Success rates relating to planting techniques and practice.

2.5     Success rates relating to aftercare.

3. Benefits derived from trees urban in urban environments

Until recently, only the dis-benefits of urban trees could be quantified (e.g. subsidence damage to buildings and trip & slip claims) and could only be countered with qualified benefits that these trees provide, such as producing oxygen and providing havens for wildlife. Systems now, however, exist that can quantify urban trees benefits and produce vital data that can be used at a local, city and regional level to justify urban tree planting and management programmes. This data encompasses these benefits in terms of atmospheric pollution absorption, cooling of the heat-island effect and storm-water run-off amelioration to name but a few. Collectively these are termed eco-system benefits and they increase overtime as trees increase in both size and age.

3.1     Further developing methodology to measure benefits which flow from urban trees.

3.2     Ensuring an interdisciplinary approach.

3.3     Embracing distinctiveness of trees (i.e. quantifying different species) and niche opportunities (i.e. specific urban landscapes).

3.4       Recognising and valuing benefits which flow over time (natural capital growth curves).