Private landowners' approaches to planting and managing forests in the UK: What's the evidence?

Anna Lawrence, Norman Dandy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Citations (Scopus)


Woodland expansion and sustainable forest management are key features of forest policy in the UK. Because a large majority of land and forests is owned privately, these policies need the involvement of private landowners. Studies of owners' attitudes and decisions in the UK are at a disadvantage as there is no complete database of land or forest ownership. This paper is based on a Rapid Evidence Assessment which identified 42 relevant studies. The predominant narrative reflects a low level of interest and management activity. There are many exceptions to this, and land management decisions are more differentiated within the socio-cultural, multipurpose landscape than has perhaps been previously acknowledged. A wide cultural gap between farming and forestry is often noted, in contrast to the international literature. Many woodland owners see themselves as managing their woodlands, in contrast to official perceptions and statistics. The evidence also reports generally negative attitudes towards woodland creation. The predominant policy tools are grants and advice. Grant uptake across England, Wales and Scotland is not currently as high as governments would like. A combination of amount offered, fit with owners' objectives, amount of paperwork and interaction with professionals are cited to explain low grant uptake. Information and advice is an important and neglected factor in the equation. A focus on both content and process of interactions with advisors, knowledge exchange and application, and outcomes, is lacking in the UK. Given the centrality of private landowners in delivering public policy, we see a need to go beyond this body of evidence and focus on innovative approaches, including engagement via social networks, knowledge exchange processes which build on existing relations and link with land managers' existing objectives, and the contextualisation of woodland within the wider land use sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-360
Number of pages10
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Advisory systems
  • Decision-making
  • Forest policy
  • Land owners
  • Non-industrial private forests
  • Woodland creation


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