Good from Woods

What is the Good from Woods project?

Good from Woods is a community of researchers exploring and reporting on the health and wellbeing outcomes of spending time in the woods. 

Originating in a National Lottery funded partnership between Plymouth University and The Silvanus Trust, Good from Woods has focused on supporting outdoor practitioners to carry out research on the activities they provide and identifying and testing appropriate methodologies for capturing the impacts of woodland based activity. 

The Good from Woods web pages host a toolkit for practitioner-led evaluation and research, developed by practitioners themselves. The toolkit explores and advises on practical aspects of engaging people of all ages and backgrounds in wellbeing focused research, in a woodland or outdoor setting. 

It is accompanied by 12 reports from practitioners’ research into the health and happiness outcomes of woodland activities (ranging from forest education to community ownership of woodlands), using aspects of the toolkit approach. 

What did it research?

Good from Woods aimed to explore how people are benefiting, personally and socially, from woodland activities in the southwest.

Currently, initiatives across the region deliver woodland activities ranging from forest education to tree planting and recreation. While each initiative may know what they’re achieving, this information is not available to others to inform new projects, funders, researchers or policy makers.

Good from Woods supported organisations to find out and record how people taking part in woodland activities feel about the experience, themselves and their community. It has built a shared evidence base of how woodland activities promote physical, psychological, emotional and social wellbeing.

How did the project find out what’s Good from Woods?

Good from Woods collaborated with organisations which provide woodland activities in the southwest and:

  • developed with them research tools and methods to investigate the social and well-being effects of the woodland activities they provide and gather evidence of this
  • trained woodland activity practitioners to undertake research and explore its results, confirming good practice and highlighting how projects can be developed
  • shared research findings to provide robust evidence to inform future work in this area. To share your own research contact us at: info@silvanus.org.uk.

Why do we need to understand how we feel Good from Woods?

Exploring the evidence of how woodland activities can benefit the health of people and communities can:

  • contribute to our growing understanding of how outdoor environments, particularly woodlands, benefit individuals and communities
  • help organisations which provide woodland activities to understand what makes them effective
  • help demonstrate to funding bodies the value of supporting opportunities for people to enjoy the benefits of woodland activities
  • foster a closer relationship between communities and local woodlands.

Our partners

The project was guided by a steering group comprising our key partners:

Practitioner researchers:

Forest of Avon Trust, Play Torbay, Embercombe, Woodland Trust, Ruskin Mill College, Otterhead Forest School, National Trust.

See the case studies produced by practitioner researchers as part of their Good from Woods research.

Our funders

The project was funded by the National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund’s Research Programme which aims to:

  • enable Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations to produce and disseminate evidence-based knowledge
  • influence local and national policy and practice
  • develop better services and interventions for beneficiaries in the longer term
  • develop VCS capacity to engage with, use and do research.

The proposal, Social cohesion and well-being deriving from woodland activities, was one of only 57 successful bids to the Research programme.

A further contribution has been received from the Forest Education Initiative (now the Forest Education Network).