Making visible the cultural values at risk from tree pests and diseases through arts approaches

The TREESCAPES project is a collaboration between the CCRI, Imperial College London and Kerry Morrison (artist), in association with Defra and the Black Environment Network (BEN), funded by the AHRC under the Follow-On Funding Highlight Notice Changing Landscapes programme. It will run from February 2020 to January 2022.

The aim of TREESCAPES is to develop and pilot a new Socially Engaged Arts method to extend the results of social science research from a previous UKRI project, UNPICK (Understanding public risk in relation to tree health), by taking it to new audiences, including multicultural black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME)  communities. It also aims to enable further impact by engaging with policy makers in creative new ways to translate the UNPICK findings and the arts research to better incorporate consideration of wider cultural values in existing policy frameworks and landscape decision-making, risk assessment and risk communication about tree health.

Tree pest and disease epidemics have increased dramatically in recent decades, largely attributed to globalization, trade in plant material and wood packaging, human movement and climate change. Evidence suggests that these outbreaks are likely to have profound consequences on landscapes, and on ecosystem services and the wellbeing benefits provided by trees and woodlands. Current policy mechanisms for surveillance and action on tree health are not yet inclusive of broader social and cultural implications, which could play an important role in protecting trees. This would also help publics feel more empowered to act and seek help in dealing with affected trees. It would also recognise the importance of the less tangible, but important, values and culture surrounding trees in the UK. Conversations and actions in localities will allow people to express what places and landscapes mean to them and to make the unexpressed values of cultural treescapes explicit.

Outcomes will include a Policy Brief and a Creative Engagement Toolkit – a reflective document of the creative process and methods, which will act as a toolkit for creative engagement, to inform other researchers seeking to incorporate arts research into larger inter/trans/un-disciplinary work or communities of publics seeking to identify the cultural values in their local landscapes.
Link to the project page on the UKRI Gateway to Research