Cumbria's key role in £10.5m programme exploring how trees can help UK reach ‘net zero’

Cumbria's key role in £10.5m programme exploring how trees can help UK reach ‘net zero’

Scientists from the University of Cumbria are part of a new £10.5 million UK programme that will explore how trees can help the UK reach net zero greenhouse gas emissions. 

UK Research and Innovation has announced funding for six research teams to develop new tools and approaches that will help trees and woodlands adapt to climate change. 

The research carried out over the next three years also aims to improve our understanding of the value of trees to people and the planet, and support the expansion of treescapes across the UK. 

Academics from the University of Cumbria’s Institute of Science, Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies are involved in two of the six projects.  

Dr Simon Carr, Associate Professor in Geography, and geographer Dr Fran Ryfield are members of the team involved in “Voices of the Future: Collaborating with children and young people to re-imagine Treescapes”.  

The project is led by Professor Kate Pahl from Manchester Metropolitan University and also includes members from the universities of Aberdeen, Birmingham, Cambridge, Middlesex and Sheffield.  

It will explore how young people perceive and connect with treescapes and how they can shape their future.  

Professor Ian Convery, an expert in conservation, and forestry and conservation academic Dr Claire Holt are involved in the second project entitled “Creative Adaptive Solutions for Treescapes of Rivers”, also known as CASTOR. This project is led by the University of Manchester, with partners from the universities of Leeds, Nottingham, Birmingham and Salford, and the Natural Capital Laboratory. 

CASTOR will explore how woodland along rivers and waterways can promote and protect the environment and build climate resilience. The project will focus on the 240,000 km of rivers and streams in England with potential for restoring riparian woodland whilst also meeting the UK government's goal of 17 per cent tree cover by 2050, and achieving carbon storage, flood prevention and other environmental benefits. 

A University of Cumbria spokesperson said: “We are delighted that University of Cumbria has been selected to participate in these two key UK Research and Innovation projects, both of which will improve our understanding of the value of trees to people and the planet, and support the expansion of treescapes across the UK.” 

The six UKRI-funded schemes involve multi-disciplinary teams from, in total, 13 universities and research institutes, including Cumbria; and over 40 non-academic partners and supporters. 

The schemes form part of the £14.5 million Future of UK Treescapes Programme, which will contribute evidence to help national policymakers and land managers in their efforts to reach 2050 net zero targets.  

The announcement comes as the UK government prepares to host the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November, where countries will be expected to set out their plans for reaching net zero by 2050. 

Details of the six UKRI funded projects, including the University of Cumbria’s involvement, can be found at https://www.ukri.org/news/studying-how-trees-can-help-the-uk-reach-net-zero-emissions/