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Technology, Innovation and Infrastructure: Trees & Society session spotlight (part 6)

Author:  Arboricultural Association
Last Updated:  03/09/2021

Technology, Innovation and Infrastructure:
Trees & Society session spotlight (part 6)

The 54th Amenity Conference 2021

The 54th AA National Amenity Conference



6–7 September 2021

Win a free day at the 2022 Conference if you book by 31st August

The must-see event for anyone who works with, or is interested in, amenity trees.

The theme of Conference 2021 is Trees and Society, and seeks to explore this relationship in more depth through four sessions over two days.

Throughout the Tuesday morning session, we’ll hear about exciting new research into the characteristics of urban trees that are most valued by citizens, as well as how the benefits change before and after trees are removed from parks and streets.

Get yourself ready for the conference and enjoy part six of our session preview below.

Technology, Innovation and Infrastructure
(Part 6)

Tuesday 7 September 2021 – Morning

Berglind Karlsdóttir

Berglind Karlsdóttir

How can technology encourage families to be more active in nature?


On the 1st of October 2019, LuLa the alien arrived in twenty-three Forestry England forests. Families across the country headed to these sites, armed with an augmented reality app, to take the ‘Glow Trail’ and assist Shaun the Sheep in the quest of returning LuLa safely back to space. The app, developed in a partnership between Forestry England, Sport England and Aardman Studios, aimed to encourage less active families (primarily with children between the ages 6-12) to be physically active in the forest.

The benefits of physical activity in nature are numerous and widely reported. They include improved physical health, reduction of stress and trait anxiety, and improvement of mood, attention capacity and even self-esteem. Outdoor activities are often targeted at young people, a group which is increasingly inactive and prone to poor mental health and loneliness. However, encouraging increased engagement with such activities remains a challenge.

Forest Research evaluated the immediate outcomes of the Glow Trail using face-to-face questionnaires and through qualitative data collected from participating families and their children as they finished the trail. The app with the Shaun the Sheep theme was successful in encouraging participation and engaging the children. Results show a range of benefits, most of which related to nature and physical activity (being outside in nature; walking or running in the forest). Children especially enjoyed the cognitive aspects of the trail, such as looking for clues, and described it as an “adventure”. Interestingly, self-reported physical activity levels of adults participating in the Glow Trail were approximately half that of the UK average, while children’s physical activity levels were considerably higher than the UK average.

We discuss whether app-based trails such as the Shaun the Sheep Glow Trail can be used as a tool to encourage young people to undertake social physical activity in nature.


Berglind is a Social Scientist with Forest Research where she currently studies management practices relating to tree pests and diseases. In this work, she engages with practitioners to understand policy incentives, risk perceptions and decision-making processes. Other projects include reviewing evaluations of the impact of forest research on practice, and evaluation of Forestry England activity trails. Berglind has an MSc in Conservation Science from Imperial College London and has previously worked in amphibian conservation, partly during an internship at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust. Berglind also has a keen interest in connectedness to nature and behaviour change interventions.

Lucio Montecchio

Lucio Montecchio

Tree health and biosecurity in the age of social media


Scientifically sound communication in plant care and biosecurity is one of the weakest rings in the chain of custody of our trees, and the slow spread of updated and correct knowledge is at the origin of the dissemination of common sense-based information, often incorrect but quickly shared through social media.

Some examples of misleading information on emerging diseases, related risks and biosecurity available on popular websites and social media will be shown and discussed.

A more intense and far-sighted cooperation among the many actors involved in the planning and management of urban green remains of primary importance.


Lucio Montecchio is a Full professor of Pathology of ornamental trees at the University of Padua, Italy.

His research includes diagnosis, epidemiology, pest risk analysis and management of trees diseases.

On biosecurity-related topics, he is a core member at the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO).

Jo Homan

Jo Homan

Mapping the impacts of in-depth training courses: community connectivity and resilient orchards


The adage “knowledge is power” is something The Orchard Project has taken to heart. From immersing children in the ‘outdoor classroom’ of orchards to giving unemployed adults access to accredited training in exchange for their volunteering time, we have been innovative in our ways of empowering people with knowledge. Find out some of the ways The Orchard Project has successfully engaged with local communities to ensure they have the skills and confidence to maintain our valuable assets; the community orchards that bring us food, biodiversity and tranquillity.


Jo Homan has the best job in the world! Being Education, Skills and Training Manager for The Orchard Project means she gets to share what she has learnt from her forest gardening background at Edible Landscapes London and have the chance to learn even more wonderful things. Best of all, she is first to meet the future orchardists of the world who come on TOP’s level 3 Certificate in Community Orcharding. Here she is talking about forest gardening and here she is singing the praises of training at the Urban Tree Festival 2020. She also enjoys yoga and dancing.