By s.fenn 28th March 2023

Field Studies Council has transformed how 13,000 people got to know their local trees in seven coastal UK towns.

Coastal trees are underappreciated and under threat in the face of a changing climate – and this project helped to change this.

We worked with communities with little knowledge of coastal urban trees to co-design and post three identification guides and deliver 21 training courses online and in-person. We focused on tree identification across seasons, tree care, pest and disease, and tree-related volunteer and career roles.

We helped people in towns with lower than the 15% tree canopy cover recommended for coastal areas, including Portsmouth, Brighton and Hull.

The impact of this project was outstanding. We reached twice as many people as planned – most new to our charity – and evaluation shows huge changes in knowledge and behaviours (see below). This ‘Forgotten Places: Greening Coastal Towns and Cities’ project was funded by the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund.

As well as guides and training from Field Studies Council, Trees for Cities and other project partners delivered planting days to transform community skills and enhance tree populations where they were needed most. Over 55,000 trees were planted across 83 locations. We are now working with Trees for Cities on the ‘Trees for Climate Action’ project which will be active in two cities across two nations: Bradford and Glasgow. This project replicates the Forgotten Places model to enhance local tree knowledge and skills, mobilising communities to take positive action against climate change.

What exactly did we do and what was the impact?

Tree Guides

What did we do?

We co-created tree guides with communities, for communities in these areas. We distributed three guides in total, one for each season, focusing on tree identification and care to transform tree knowledge and prompt action for local trees.

Recipients were encouraged to use this guide with their communities, family, school groups, and others to spread the knowledge and benefit far and wide. Those involved also received communications on how to use their guide out in their town.

  • 13,065 people used guides in 2022
  • A quarter of these people also attended tree-related events such as training courses or tree planting
  • Most of these people also shared their guides with at least 5 others

What was the impact?

Because of using our tree guides…

  • 93% now say they can identify 10+ tree species thanks to our help – prior to attending the course only 53% could identify up to 3 tree species
  • 81% say urban trees now more important to them
  • 92% would recommend our tree guides to others

People who received guides said:

“The guides were excellent and well presented.”

“Guides were used regularly within our school community”

“My grandchildren came out with me and it was terrific sharing this information”

To view the rest of our wildlife publications, including fold out guides covering a huge wealth of topics, please click here.

Tree Training

What did we do?

We scheduled seasonal training courses focused on tree identification, care, and voluntary and career roles in the seven locations, both in-person and online.

Our in-person courses were a one-day interactive workshop led by a local expert tutor, which gave learners the opportunity to learn classroom-based theory and then head out local greenspace to implement their learnings alongside their fellow community tree enthusiasts!

Online courses provided a variety of self-led content, with weekly interactive Zoom webinars led by an expert tutor over 4 weeks.

  • 727 people were trained in 2022/23
  • 41% of these attended additional tree related events such as tree planting
  • 69% also used our tree guides distributed as part of this project

What was the impact?

Because of attending tree training…

  • 93% now say they can identify 10+ tree species thanks to our help – prior to attending the course only 37% could identify up to 3 tree species
  • 81% are now engaging more with urban trees
  • 98% would recommend our tree training
  • 84% shared their new tree knowledge with others (many with 5+ people!)
  • 18% are now volunteering with conservation projects or tree-planting

People who attended training said:

“The tutor was brilliant, very knowledgeable and friendly!”

“Sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. This course was a real eye-opener.”

“I have always enjoyed going for walks with my dog, but now I study the trees on my walks and try to identify them. I look for buds and flowers and fruit, I look for disease and I try to estimate how old the tree is by looking at the bark.”

To view all our natural history training courses, including those that focus on trees, please click here.

As mentioned above, due to the huge success of this project, we are using this model to expand into new areas, Bradford and Glasgow, with the Trees for Climate Action project – click here to learn more.

If you have any questions or would like to chat about either project, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the team at [email protected].