The Oxfordshire Treescapes Project

Based near Bicester, Nicholsons is a leading Forestry and well known Landscaping/Gardening company in Oxfordshire. With accolades such as winner of the Large Business of Oxfordshire 2019 and Cherwell Established Business of the Year 2019, they have been integral in the delivery of The Oxfordshire Treescapes Project – a powerful mapping tool that shows the right places to establish treescapes across Oxfordshire, as well as the benefits these bring.

Jamie, one of the project leads explains “The objective of the Project is to get more treescapes planted across the county, in the right places, for the right reasons. By treescapes we mean trees in all their forms, such as woodland, hedgerows, agroforestry or street trees. The tool also maps the wide range of benefits these treescapes can bring such as bio-diversity, carbon capture, natural flood management, air quality improvements and recreation and wellbeing. It’s quite a complex picture to understand how that all maps out.”

He continues “This is a collaboration bringing together a wide range of different stakeholders in Oxfordshire’s land use, to create a common picture about what could be done. There is a lot of competition for land use in Oxfordshire and different groups have different perspectives on how it should be used. So the purpose of this project is to bring everybody together to get a consensus view and a ‘can do’ attitude about sanctioning new treescapes in the Oxfordshire environment.”

Niel, Director at Nicholsons, already knew of OxLEP Business and reached out to discover what support was available. Due to the innovative nature of the mapping they were signposted to OxLEP’s ISfB programme. Niel explains “Our project is extremely innovative in that it uses mapping in order to bring people together to discuss opportunities and look at advancing specific opportunities in a way that hasn’t been done before. Most mapping work tends to be about what is already there."

“There aren’t really any other opportunity maps of this nature available. Our unique mapping gives farmers and landowners the knowledge of what opportunities they have on their land that they otherwise would not have known were there.”

"OxLEP Business were key in the development of the Project, as they were involved in the very early stages and were our biggest funder. The ‘Go Create’ funding we received was used predominantly to do the mapping work for the treescapes and benefits. OxLEP Business also helped us make connections and supported us through our grant application, which can be a complex process. Their innovation advisor made the process so much easier for us. They were always on hand to help us with any questions we had.”

Alongside the grant funding and support from OxLEP Business, The Treescapes Project has also been supported by the Oxfordshire City and District Councils, Woodland Trust and Friends of the Earth, amongst other funders. “It’s been incredible to receive such valuable support from so many stakeholders – it proves that the project has a powerful purpose and meaning. We are now a broad stakeholder partnership.”

The project is now a charitable initiative, led by the newly established GrowGreenCarbon, working alongside Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. The mapping information is available through a written guide and an interactive story map – which allows landowners and farmers to go in and see what can be done on a particular site. There is also a reporting service which shares reports on individual areas of land or parish to find out what opportunities there are.

Alongside all of this, the project also has a policy report which outlines what could be done in Oxfordshire to tackle climate change.

“After 18 months of hard work and development The Oxfordshire Treescapes Project has now launched, with much anticipation and excitement from us all. And with the run up to COP26, it’s such a brilliant time to launch as sustainability is at the forefront of all our minds. After only a few days we’ve already received multiple enquiries for reports from landowners, parishes and community groups – such a positive start. Without OxLEP Business it would have taken much longer for the Project to get off the ground. We highly recommend them to other organisations seeking support.”

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