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Treescapes: Voices of the Future Project

"Voices of the Future" is a 3 year research project, and part of a wider Future of UK Treescapes programme, which runs from August 2021 to July 2024.
It is led by Manchester Metropolitan University, in collaboration with six other universities and other partners including the Chartered College of Teachers, Early Childhood Outdoors, Natural England, Forest Research, Manchester City of Trees, and The Mersey Forest.

Children and young people, from early years through to secondary school, will be co-researchers of the project, with an emphasis on those from traditionally marginalised groups, whose access to and inclusion in treescapes is often limited.

Trees and woodlands currently being established to help tackle climate change will be inherited by today's children and young people, who will be tasked with their future care and maintenance.

It is important to explore how young people connect with these treescapes, including culturally, and to listen to their ideas and experiences, to ensure that they survive and thrive into the future.

The "Voices of the Future" project will develop new methods of engaging young people in designing, creating and caring for treescapes, including natural woodlands and urban parks.

Researchers will explore how treescapes could be expanded to meet the UK's net-zero targets, and examine how trees and society can benefit each other. The results will inform educational policies, teacher training, urban planning and treescape design.

The Mersey Forest's main involvement is in the latter stages of the project; in the testing and refining of the research approaches developed, and in the translation of these and any findings into policy and practice by building it into the 2025 refresh of The Mersey Forest Plan.

To help test and refine the research approaches developed through the project, we will recruit marginalised children and young people from within The Mersey Forest to take part on local sites.

This will give the researchers (including the initial cohort of child and youth co-researchers) the opportunity to apply and refine the engagement methods and findings developed to date, prior to wider dissemination. It will also enable the initial cohort of child and youth co-researchers to develop their 'treescape ambassadors' leadership skills, through peer education and child and youth-led knowledge transfer, and support the development of communities of children and young people caring for treescapes.

The Mersey Forest will build in findings into its current work with schools, through forest school and tree planting sessions. We can use the research findings to inform these sessions and explore whether they change the way children relate to and understand their treescapes.

The project will also allow us to feed in the voices of children and young people into the 2025 refresh of the strategic Mersey Forest Plan.

The outputs from the whole project will include a practice toolkit (such as 'how to' guides, youth-generated videos, and activity packs), professional toolkit to assess the carbon store of urban treescapes, education resources, policy recommendations, updated Community Forest Strategies (including The Mersey Forest Plan), academic output including a book, a digital exhibition, a project conference, and a series of treescapes across the Northern Forest region.

More information about this project can be found on the below sites.
Treescapes: "Voices of the Future" Project (
Home - UK Treescapes

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