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Mapping the flows of multiple benefits and risks arising from woodland restoration


How can public and private sector investors, at low risk, restore woodland habitats for the most multiple benefits to society in addition to increasing natural carbon capture and biodiversity, and what land is available for this?

          Net Zero Emissions targets increasingly being adopted by private and public sector organisations are driving demand for investment in woodland habitat restoration to generate carbon sequestration benefits that can offset an organisations’ residual emissions. Given that achieving positive net carbon sequestration rates from tree planting on Scottish soils is neither simple nor risk free, greater understanding of how to deliver high-quality woodland habitat restoration which can also deliver multiple benefits for society - and at low risk - is essential. This need is reinforced by climate change impacts which will affect tree species distributions and their net carbon sequestration rate. Derived benefits will also depend on the decision making of different woodland restoration investors, which will be based on different goals (e.g., biodiversity vs. carbon offsetting) and levels of uncertainty, and the developing regulatory context. Therefore, the risks of unintended consequences, in terms of restoration failure and reduced derived benefits, need to be assessed with respect to such decision making as well as long-term climate change. These factors are likely to determine the quality and outcome of the restoration projects and consequently the availability of land for high quality habitat restoration in the medium to long-term.

Work Package 1 

Our Work Package is deeply interdisciplinary combining; i) a mixed methods sociological approach to the qualitative and quantitative analyses of data on multiple benefits of woodland habitat restoration (and to whom the benefits flow) with ii) map-based integrated socio-biophysical modelling, including Agent-Based Modelling, of the risk of unintended consequences of different restoration scenarios for Scotland under conditions of climate change(e.g. RCPs 4.5). The role of individual investor decision making under uncertainty will be examined when modelling the impacts of investors’ restoration decisions on carbon storage, biodiversity and other benefits.

Combined, these interdisciplinary approaches will allow the co-production of new knowledge on how to support high-quality woodland habitat restoration activities for multiple benefits to society, and how much land might be available for such activities.


The Principle Investigator is Matt Hare (  

Team members include: Marie Castellazzi, Anna Conniff, Alessandro Gimona, Matt Hare, Ade Ibiyemi, Kate Irvine, Doug Salt,

Former team members: Bethany Wilkins

Acknowledgement:    Work Package 1 of 'Habitat Management and Restoration' (JHI-D4-4)  is supported by the Rural and Environment Science and Analytical Services Division of the Scottish Government through its Strategic Research Programme (2022-2027) as part of the Biodiversity theme.

Project Information
Project Type: 
Active Project


Areas of Interest

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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.