Forest Bound aimed to engage Edinburgh-based ethnic minority groups with forest landscapes by using art-science approaches.

The project created spaces where communities that face additional barriers to access nature/outdoor spaces can interact with forests.

We organised forest walks and a workshop session where we used visual arts to explore people's connection to forests and begin conversations on how these overlap with key biological processes such as adaptation and resilience. Material from the activities was curated and displayed at a community group art exhibition in Edinburgh in February, 2023.

Forest Bound was funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) until February 2023 as part of the Growing Roots 2 call and was a partnership between the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), Edinburgh and Lothians Regional Equality Council (ELREC), artist Tamsin Grainger, and Written in Film.

Film by Written in Film

Opening-up the outdoors

Ethnic minority groups are underrepresented in green spaces and face additional barriers to access and gain the benefits of spending time in nature. Reasons for this include:

  • Limited access in low income areas
  • Cultural and/or language barriers
  • Unease and feeling unwelcome 
  • Lack of public imagery depicting ethnic minority groups in green spaces

Many public engagement approaches are designed based on the assumption that a deficit of information is the greatest barrier to engagement. This not only ignores the specific limitations different communities experience, but prioritises knowledge dissemination methods that are not targeted and can be ineffective to get people excited about environmental science research. Potentially more effective means of engagement are thus often unexplored and underfunded. 

Forest Bound trialed public engagement approaches based on the collaboration of visual arts and environmental science. The project facilitated spaces so communities underrepresented in the outdoors could engage with forest environments while bringing attention to their experiences and values. 


Identifying mushrooms in the Black Wood of Rannoch


Bark rubbings in Roslin Glen

Responsible delivery

This project was based on the principle that participants, in the full diversity and intersectionality of their experiences (particularly those that restrict access to the outdoors, and by extension, the opportunity to connect with local environments) enrich all outcomes and provide a representative idea of people's experiences and relationship to forests.

Liaison with communities and participants convened by ELREC was done through the respective group's Link Officers, who also acted as translators where language barriers were a consideration. ELREC staff supported all activities and helped ensure everyone had equitable opportunities to access, engage and feedback on the project. Informed prior consent was obtained to capture any images, footage and audio related to the project.


Photos taken by participants during the forest walks



UKCEH staff