Climate change and biodiversity loss are arguably the greatest challenges currently facing humanity. Establishing more trees, woodlands and hedges in the landscape will play a critical role in the delivery of the UK Government’s Net Zero target, as well as the wider ambitions of the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan for people and nature. In the right place, the creation and natural regeneration of woodlands, trees outside of woodlands and agroforestry can deliver significant benefits for nature recovery and enhance public benefits from recreation as well as sequestering carbon.
Without an in-depth understanding of the behaviours, motivations and barriers to landowners, however, initiatives to create and regenerate woodlands could fail to realise the step-change in scale needed. A large proportion of treescape expansion will need to occur on agricultural land, so it is crucial to understand the social and cultural opportunities and barriers which exist in relation to farmer decision-making and the associated behaviour change needed to bring about increases in tree cover within agricultural landscapes, while at the same time maintaining sustainable food production and guaranteeing food security.
The aim of this project was to undertake a literature review to summarise the social and behavioural science evidence relevant to woodland creation in the farmed environment. Included in woodland creation are wood pasture, agroforestry and hedgerow planting/establishment in agricultural landscapes. Woodland creation via planting and natural regeneration were both considered. The report highlights key insights for consideration in the design of interventions or schemes to encourage long-term land use change to increase tree cover.