Keywords: multi-functional forestry, green infrastructures, multi-functionality, England, community forests, UK, United Kingdom, multi-functional planning, landscape planning, urban foresters, multi-functional spaces, connected spaces, post-industrial cities, scale developments, policy changes, North-East Community Forest, Mersey Forest, Marston Vale Community Forest, Cheshire, Merseyside, Bedfordshire, Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland, County Durham, Tyne, Wear, over-reliance, work programmes, funding applications, forest activities, sustainable society, long-term sustainability, sustainable development
The changing focus of England?s Community Forest programme and its use of a green infrastructure approach to multi-functional landscape planning
The role of England?s Community Forest programme has constantly diversified since its creation in 1990. Over the last decade, its role has extended from urban foresters to providers of multi-functional and connected spaces around post-industrial cities. The development of such a key role has allowed each community forest to influence the contemporary debates relating to green infrastructure. However, whether green infrastructure has had a beneficial impact on the long-term sustainability of community forestry in England is still open to question. This paper draws on research conducted with four of England?s Community Forests between 2005 and 2008. It assesses the development of community forestry and explores the dynamic role green infrastructure has played in this process. Through an examination of community forestry practice, this paper asks how green infrastructure has facilitated landscape scale development within a transient period of landscape policy change. Data from interviews and policy analysis undertaken with the North-East Community Forest (NECF) partnership, the Mersey Forest and Marston Vale Community Forest inform this argument assessing the value of green infrastructure in multi-functional forestry. This paper concludes that green infrastructure potentially holds both positive and negative outcomes for community forests. It argues that an over-reliance on green infrastructure in work programmes and funding applications may have led to a narrowing of community forest activities. It goes on to conclude that the broader objectives of England?s Community Forests may offer a more sustainable approach for landscape planning that incorporates green infrastructure as an element of community forestry development.