Oxfordshire Treescapes

We are currently in a climate crisis, and although tree planting is not the only solution, it is still a viable option for offsetting carbon emissions. However, care must be taken to not plant trees on unsuitable land, as tree planting on grassland will lead to a loss in biodiversity, not a gain.

TVERC have been working with Jamie Hartzell, a social entrepreneur turning his talents to helping to address the climate crisis, and Victoria McNamara, an expert on agricultural land use, to select parcels of land that have the potential for tree planting without compromising their current land-use or biodiversity.

It is estimated that doubling UK tree cover would absorb 10% of our annual greenhouse gas emissions (Friends of the Earth). Approximately 9% of Oxfordshire is covered in trees, compared with a European average of 35%. Our aim is to improve the number of trees in the county to offset carbon emissions from the local area.

TVERC will be undertaking the technical work for this project, with Jamie and Victoria leading the outreach and consultation process. The technical work will involve analysing a detailed geodatabase developed by TVERC in collaboration with Alison Smith, a researcher in Natural Capital at the University of Oxford. TVERC will select suitable packages of land for the nine possible treescapes which include woodland, hedgerows, community and commercial orchards as well as new parkland and silvopastures (managed grazing).

Following the initial selection, TVERC will determine the likely impact of the proposed treescapes and prioritise those likely to offer a significant improvement in ecosystem services. Jamie and Victoria will then focus on working with landowners, particularly those who own agricultural land, to encourage tree planting and using these treescapes to advise them on the optimum tree-planting strategy for their land.

This is a fascinating project that could yield serious improvements to the Oxfordshire environment, and encapsulates the complex data analysis that TVERC can provide for organisations looking to improve the environment through data driven decision making.

Policy created without consulting long-term, high-quality data is prone to suffering from observation bias and would be less likely to succeed. TVERC have the best quality environmental data in Oxfordshire and Berkshire, and their staff have the expertise to analyse and interpret the data to best inform decision-makers. TVERCs involvement in projects such as this, helps to ensure that conservation and environmental policy across the two counties have the highest possible chance of success.

Posted: November 23, 2020