Exploring land manager views of payments for ecosystem services, networks and learning

posted on August 13, 2018

We are pleased to have contributed to a report by the Social and Economic Research Group of Forest Research, working also with the University of Oxford, exploring land owner and manager views about ecosystem services. The work is part of ongoing outcomes of the British Woodlands Survey 2017.

There is increasing interest in understanding, valuing and supporting the variety of ecosystem services that woodlands can provide. Land owners and managers can play a key role in the delivery of forest ecosystem services through active woodland management, woodland expansion and woodland creation.

Exploring land manager views of payments for ecosystem services, networks and learning

Ecosystem services

Headline results

Many land managers were not familiar with the term ecosystem services or the concept of payments for ecosystem services. However, they did often recognise that their woodlands could provide a range of benefits to society.

Quantifying forest services and benefits was thought to be particularly difficult in considering the design of any schemes that might provide payment for these services and benefits.

Read more on the Forest Research website


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BWS2017 report published

posted on March 9, 2018

We are pleased to announce the publication of the British Woodlands Survey 2017 report.

We adopted a ‘360-degree’ research method for British Woodlands Survey 2017, whereby stakeholders were engaged in designing the survey, providing data, and reviewing outcomes. Forty-eight workshop delegates ranked priority themes provided by 221 respondents in an initial survey, for UK countries: England, Scotland and Wales. Overall, Societal attitudes ranked highest, followed by Climate change adaptation, and Pests and diseases. Within countries, additional top-ranking themes included: for England, Tree Planting and Timber Production; for Wales, Private woodland owner engagement; and for Scotland; Profitability and Natural capital.

The main survey, based on these themes, was conducted online during summer 2017. Responses were received from 1,630 people, distributed across the UK. The majority of respondents (660) were private woodland owners, who together with 180 forestry agents, controlled 3,629 woodland properties covering 645,370 hectares. The response represented 28% of all private sector woodland area in the UK (2.30Mha), and one-fifth of the total UK woodland area (3.17Mha).


BWS2017 infographic - click to download

BWS2017 infographic

BWS2017 report - free download

BWS2017 report – click to download

Some headlines

  • Top motivation for woodland owners is protecting and improving nature.
  • Most owners think that society values woodland most for its wildlife.
  • Many in the sector want to engage more in developing policy but feel their voices are not heard.
  • There is enthusiasm for diversifying tree species to support biodiversity but concerns among some about impacts on timber yields.
  • Among a small subset of respondents (230) there would potentially be enough land made available over the next five years which would lead to a 1% increase in the UK’s woodland cover.

Download the report here


About the British Woodlands Survey

The British Woodlands Survey (BWS) gathers evidence about Britain’s woodlands and those who care for them. The BWS aims to provide an evidence base on which future policies and practice can be developed. BWS2017 is the first repeat survey in a five-year cycle of major surveys intended to explore broad themes (the first survey taking place in 2012). In the intervening years two national surveys explored specific themes. The BWS is co-ordinated by Sylva Foundation. Read more:

BWS2017 was led by researchers from Forest Research, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford and Woodland Trust. Funding was provided by Scottish Forestry Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Woodland Trust.

BWS2017 was led by researchers from Forest Research, Sylva Foundation, University of Oxford and Woodland Trust. Funding was provided by Scottish Forestry Trust, Forestry Commission Scotland, and Woodland Trust.

Hemery, G., Petrokofsky, G., Ambrose-Oji, B., Edwards, D., O’Brien, L., Tansey, C., and Townsend, M. (2018). Shaping the future of forestry: Report of the British Woodlands Survey 2017. 34pp.

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Adapting to climate change

posted on October 16, 2017

Sylva Foundation CEO Gabriel Hemery reports on significant progress made in bringing the English forestry sector together to ensure that forestry practice, and our trees and forests, will adapt effectively to climate change.

UKFS and climate change adaptation

UKFS and climate change adaptation

The challenges we face in the light of climate change are familiar to us all, in every area of society. In relation to our trees and forests, and within the forestry sector, it is well-accepted that we need to take action to adapt to a changing climate. The UKFS (see box right) clearly articulates key measures we should be implementing, but how well are we meeting the challenge?

Willingness and Evidence

Two seminal moments during 2015 kick-started positive action relating to climate change adaptation in England. The first was the signing of the Climate Change Accord, ‘A call for resilient forests, woods and trees’, by more than 30 organisations. It states:

“We believe that it is necessary to act now to provide a secure future for our forests, woods and trees, that significant changes are required to widely-accepted and practiced systems of management to make them resilient, and we are committed to help realise the vision set out in this Accord.”

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

British Woodlands Survey 2015 report

The second moment was the response by 1,500 stakeholders to a national survey concerning ‘awareness, action and aspiration among Britain’s forestry community relating to climate change’. Responses to the 2015 British Woodlands Survey indicated that the resilience of the UK’s forests is currently poor, although there are a number of positive aspects which could be built upon. The report concluded that collaboration across the sector was required, with responsibilities shared between the many interests. It also identified that risks need to be more clearly communicated to stakeholders, together with firmer, tailored, guidance on addressing these risks.

Together these two moments secured both the willingness to collaborate strategically, and the evidence necessary to measure progress towards meeting the adaptation measures in the UKFS. The next step was to build on these by agreeing what actions needed to be taken.

Taking action

A small group of interested parties came together under the auspices of the ‘Forestry and Climate Change Working Group’ (FCCWG). During 2016 the FCCWG started working towards an Action Plan for the forestry sector. It has been following a simple five-step approach:

  1. What should we be doing to support adaptation to climate change?    UKFS Adaptation Factors
  2. How do our actions measure up?    British Woodlands Survey 2015
  3. What is being done currently?    Organisations submit evidence to FCCWG during 2016/17
  4. What could we do better (or less of)?
  5. Priorities: what we need to do, by whom, by when?


Steps 1-3 formed the basis of a Draft Action Plan (see Read More), yet to address the important steps of what we should improve, and our priorities for taking action, it was necessary to convene a stakeholder workshop. At a meeting held on 11th October 2017—hosted by Forest Research at Alice Holt Lodge—senior representatives from 24 organisations (see box) gathered to devise strategies to tackle steps 4 and 5.

With thanks to delegates representing:

BIFOR, Confor, Deer Initiative, Egger, Euroforest, Forest of Marston Vale, Forest Research, Forestry Commission England, Forest Enterprise England, Future Trees Trust, Grown in Britain, Institute of Chartered Foresters, Lockhart Garratt, Martin Glynn, National Forest, National Trust, Natural England, Royal Forestry Society, Small Woods, Sylva Foundation, Tubex, Tilhill Forestry, Woodland Heritage, Woodland Trust.

After an opening address by Forestry Commission Chairman Sir Harry Studholme, an introduction to the FCCWG by its Chairman Simon Lloyd (Chief Executive, Royal Forestry Society), and an overview of the changes ahead from James Morison (Climate Change Science Group Leader, Forest Research), delegates were soon hard at work. Gabriel Hemery and Gill Petrokofsky, both from Sylva Foundation, managed the café-style brainstorming. Small groups tackled each of the 18 UKFS factors in turn, identifying priorities for action over the next five years.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.

Preparing for the next brainstorm session. Photo Gail Atkinson.


Next steps

Over the next few months the FCCWG will be reviewing the outcomes of the October workshop. We aim to publish, in early 2018, an Action Plan for Forestry and Climate Change Adaptation. We intend this to be a rolling five-year plan, which will be reviewed annually to assess how well the sector is progress in meeting the agreed actions. Given the degree of commitment shown by organisations to date, we are confident that the actions will be widely adopted and responsibilities shared among stakeholders.

The FCCWG is keen to hear from those who may be interested in being actively involved in its work. In particular, we are aware that the interests of tree nurseries, timber processors, and urban forestry are under-represented.

Ultimately, we are hopeful that the unprecedented collaboration across the sector, together with the sound evidence behind its collective action, will help ensure that the Action Plan is embraced by forestry policy-makers, will influence the commissioning of relevant research, and will empower practitioners to take action.

Read more:

Dr Gabriel Hemery FICFor is Chief Executive of Sylva Foundation, and a member of the Forestry and Climate Change Working Group.

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The top 20 questions for forestry and landscapes

posted on January 6, 2015
Top 20 Questions

Top 20 Questions

We are pleased to publish the top 20 priority questions for forestry and landscapes. Thank you to everyone who took part.

The T20Q project – funded by CIFOR and supported by many partners during 2014 –  set out to collect policy-relevant questions relating to forestry and landscapes, as a first step towards support systematic reviews in these subjects. It was designed to work in two phases; firstly to crowd-source questions, and secondly to ask respondents to rank these. The audience was intended to be global, supported by partners with world-wide reach, and the survey was translated into multiple languages.

In the first phase 502 people submitted 2859 questions. Respondents came from over 100 countries. Questions received were coded with up to three keywords, allowing their grouping into clusters of terms or ‘themes’. In the second phase ‒ where questions were ranked ‒ 818 respondents (many of whom were thought to be new respondents) took part.

The top twenty questions

Here is the list of twenty priority questions derived from the process (where 1 is highest ranked):

  1. How can degraded ecosystems be restored to meet the objectives of biodiversity conservation, ecosystem function, ecosystem resilience, and sustainability of rural livelihoods?
  2. In the context of high human density and scarcity of farming land, how can we address the question of sustainable management of tropical forests? [Dans un contexte de forte densité humaine et de rareté des terres arables, comment peut-on aborder la question de gestion durable des forêts tropicales?]
  3. How can we integrate sustainability into trade regulation and law?
  4. How can we develop models of forest restoration that are economically feasible?
  5. Can we develop practical tools that allow land-planning and forest management to be better tailored to the needs, culture and perceptions of different communities and locations?
  6. What are the implications for biodiversity and the environment of using afforestation as a mean of carbon mitigation?
  7. How do we make sure that the needs of indigenous people who rely on intact forest systems are being met while also providing wood products for economic growth?
  8. How is it possible to develop a sustainable mechanism for payments for ecosystem services?
  9. What are the institutional arrangements that might enable smallholders within a landscape to jointly market the ecosystems services provided by reforestation of some of their land?
  10. How can we improve agriculture to reduce the pressure in forested areas?
  11. How can we best select species that simultaneously provide ecological and economic benefits?
  12. What are the best means to ensure that forest/landscape restoration projects add value to the landscape in terms of connectivity between populations and habitats, facilitating gene flow, species migration, as well as complementarity of land-uses and livelihoods of local people?
  13. How can local knowledge, wisdom and experiences (e.g. on tree species, NTFPs [non-timber forest products]) be effectively combined with national and subnational forest assessment, monitoring and management efforts?
  14. How can we guarantee effective protection and conservation of environmental services in a world increasingly in need of raw materials at low cost? [¿De que manera puede garantizarse la protección y conservación efectiva de los servicios ambientales en un mundo cada vez más tensionado por la necesidad de materias primas a bajo coste?]
  15. Adaptation to climate change means answering to trends in future climate and also to increasing risks. These two aspects are often studied separately when they should be combined. How to combine them?
  16. Can we really use ecosystem service values as a method to value a whole landscape?
  17. How can inclusive forest and landscape management be enhanced for the resource-poor?
  18. How can farmers get money from biodiversity conservation?
  19. How can we maintain, restore and shape water-friendly landscapes, including forests and trees, while addressing partly-conflicting land use and water needs of all stakeholders of a landscape?
  20. How can we ensure that forests are for the benefit of local economies and forests are not grabbed for the benefit of some foreign company?

Whether you took part or not, we would welcome any comments here on the blog about the final 20 questions, and of course the process as a whole.

Visit the T20Q project website

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T20Q co-ordinators talk about the next phase of the global project

posted on December 9, 2014
T20Q podcast December 2014

t20q podcast December 2014

T20Q co-ordinators, Gabriel Hemery and Gill Petrokofsky, talked recently to Jen Hurst about the next phase of the global project.

The discussion covered the background to the project, how the 2500 respondents from 104 countries who took part in the first phase have been re-engaged in a new phase, and how the set of 109 questions was derived under seven themes:

  • Ecosystem services
  • Management of Forest and Forested Land
  • Land use and Landscape
  • Economics and Trade
  • Conservations and Biodiversity
  • People and Society
  • Climate Change

Take part in Phase 2 of the T20Q survey

Listen to their conversation:

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T20Q – join our second phase of a global survey

posted on November 14, 2014
Top 20 Questions

Top 20 Questions – please take part

T20Q is a global project that allows you to have your say about issues of importance in forestry and landscapes. From May through November 2014 we collected questions – concerning research and policy in forestry and landscapes – from respondents in 104 countries around the world. We are now re-engaging those who completed this first phase AND we want those who haven’t contributed to get involved.

Sharing sets of filtered questions and then prioritising them

Questions submitted through in Phase 1 have been sorted and organised into topics that reflect the most frequently-occurring themes. These are presented in sets of questions for further consolidating online through a ranking process. We are now seeking your contribution in assessing these questions and rating them. 

We initially collected questions in very broad categories but the new themes presented in Phase 2 reflect the most frequently-occurring topics that emerged from the questions submitted in Phase 1. There are 7 cross-cutting themes in Phase 2:

  • People & society
  • Conservation & biodiversity
  • Landuse & landscape issues
  • Ecosystem services
  • Economics & trade
  • Climate change
  • Management of forests

We will count up all the scores and produce a final set of Top Twenty Questions in December.

Take part in Phase 2 of the T20Q survey

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T20Q – Top twenty questions for forestry and landscape

posted on October 7, 2014
Take the T20Q survey

Take the T20Q survey

Researchers from around the world are gathering this week at the IUFRO 24th World Congress in Salt Lake City to discuss the future, and the related challenges, facing forests and forest management in the 21st century. This comes hard on the heels of the climate talks in New York in late September, where forests were high on the agenda, the CGIAR Development Dialogues, which aired synergies (and, importantly, gaps) between forestry, agriculture and other land-use sectors, and a Colloquium on Forests and Climate organised by Columbia University and CIFOR, at which leading thinkers considered how we could ‘change the future by challenging the present’.

All of these events provide a ‘sort of scientific crystal ball to give glimpses into the years ahead and discuss how to meet and adapt to coming challenges’, as Congress Spotlight 17 so eloquently put it!

The T20Q project is also a crystal ball and is asking, this time ‘non-leading’ thinkers, to add their no-less-important thoughts to the questions of where forestry’s priorities lie for research and policy.

T20Q – ‘top twenty questions for forestry and landscapes’ is a project within the broader Evidence-Based Forestry (EBF) initiative, led by CIFOR and its Partners. It follows a highly successful ‘T10Q’ project for British foresters, but this time extends the call for questions in three languages to a wider community of people involved with forestry and landscapes. It is being co-ordinated by the Sylva Foundation, a leading UK charity promoting evidence-informed forestry.

Response has been excellent so far – reaching people in more than 104 countries, and engaging many more young people and women than is usual with surveys in our field! We have received well over 3000 questions, but we would like to use the opportunity of engaging with the ‘IUFRO family’ now gathered in Salt Lake City to urge them to add their voices and to encourage people in their home institutions also to join the T20Q conversation.

The survey takes less than 30 minutes. Take part if you think:

  • we need to recalibrate how forests are presented in mainstream politics
  • too few people are involved in setting research and policy agendas
  • we should talk about forestry in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • ‘traditional’ forestry topics are being side-lined in the pursuit of broader linkages


Take part in the Survey: you can input in English, French or Spanish.

Visit the CIFOR booth (numbers 1103 & 1202) in the Congress Exhibition for more information about T20Q and Evidence-Based Forestry.

We look forward to hearing your stimulating questions!

Have a wonderful conference!

Gillian Petrokofsky, University of Oxford Research Fellow & CIFOR Senior Research Associate
Gabriel Hemery, CEO, Sylva Foundation
Peter Holmgren, DG, CIFOR

This article appeared first in the IUFRO blog

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Help define the top 20 questions for forestry and landscapes

posted on September 11, 2014

t20Q the story so far

The T20Q project offers an opportunity for everyone involved in forestry, agriculture and landscapes to identify the priority areas for future, high-quality research – and, ultimately, for policy.

Already we’ve received nearly 2000 questions, but the more questions we receive the better: we will have a richer mix of voices, a broader perspective on people’s priorities, and more robust evidence in the future.

Completing the survey will take just 15 minutes of your time:


t20q the story so far

visit to find out more

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Join the global conversation via T20Q

posted on August 15, 2014
The global conversation via T20Q. Some of the people and questions so far

The global conversation via T20Q. Some of the people and questions so far.


bienvenue à T20Q

bienvenue à T20Q

Nous souhaitons encourager le plus de personnes possibles à participer et à alimenter la discussion sur les thématiques les plus importantes pour la recherche et les choix politiques

Participez à la conversation!

Ne vous limitez pas dans vos réflexions : quel que soit l’élément important pour vous dans la forêt ou les arbres des paysages, nous voulons le connaître.


bienvenido a T20Q

bienvenido a T20Q

Deseamos animar a tantas personas como sea posible a participar de las deliberaciones sobre cuáles son los temas más importantes para la investigación y las políticas.

Únase a la conversación!

Piense en términos generales: si algún aspecto de la silvicultura o los árboles en el paisaje es importante para usted, queremos escucharlo.

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1300 questions from 79 countries submitted to T20Q

posted on July 17, 2014

We have received almost 1300 questions to the T20Q project, covering a very wide range of topics, from people in 79 different countries.

A third of those who have participated have been women and 20% have been under the age of 30. Forestry has often been criticised for being heavily reliant on the views of older men, so this level of participation from younger people and women is terrific, and we encourage yet more to join the conversation.

We have received questions from people working in forestry, agriculture, landscapes and combinations of these three – researchers, policy-makers, educators and practitioners – and we are particularly keen to hear from more people in smaller organisations and the business sector.

Have you important questions that you think researchers and policy makers should listen to? Is your country or region well represented so far? Do join the conversation! Read about T20Q and submit your questions online

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