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Trees Near Us

Finished 31.12.2023 - 31.12.2023
School of Forest Sciences, Faculty of Science, Forestry and Technology


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Do you have a tree – friend?

What kind of relationships do people experience with trees? Which tree attracts you and why? Can a tree have an emotional value? How do we take care of trees important to us? 

The research project ‘Trees Near Us’ explores what makes one tree more important than others. We would like to find out what people feel for trees, how these connections form and how they are expressed in everyday life. The multidisciplinary research project combines perspectives fron science and arts to explore what makes some individual trees important to people. We want to find out what kind of connections are between trees and people, how do they for and how they can be seen in everyday life personally and culturally.

The research takes place in both Finland and the Netherlands.  Finland and Netherlands represent contrasts in forest cover while still sharing a lot of similar cultural values. This combination makes them an interesting pair to compare how people feel about trees in their environment.

‘Trees Near Us’ investigates the relationship between people and trees through science and art and is being led by the University of Eastern Finland in partnership with Wageningen University (the Netherlands). The team encompasses researchers from forest ecology, literature, and cultural anthropology, as well as professionals in the sound and photographic arts.

We use an online questionnaire to select representative cases of tree-human relationships.  These cases are complemented with stories about trees from interviews. We approach the subject through contrasts. We look at trees in old and young urban culture and the differences in the relationship between the metropolitan area, small towns and the countryside, in both the Netherlands and Finland.

With this research we increase the understanding of the cultural value of trees. This knowledge can be applied in urban– and forest planning, as well in the management of green areas.

The research is funded by the Finnish Kone Foundation and takes place between 2019-2023.