Liz O’Brien is Head of the Social and Economic Research Group at Forest Research. Her research explores well-being and the cultural ecosystem benefits of trees and woodlands including a strong focus on the health benefits of engagement with trees and woodlands – physical, mental and social.
Liz was previously involved in two European COST Actions: 1) Forests and human health, 2) Urban forests and green infrastructure, as well as the UK National Ecosystem Assessment Project on shared, social and cultural values. She is involved in two European expert groups: one on forests and human health, and the other on mental wellbeing and greenspace. She has researched groups that are excluded and disadvantaged and their engagement with woodlands and wider nature. She has been involved in a large number of evaluations of projects and programmes including the current Active Forest Programme and the Westonbirt Community Project (both led by Forestry Commission England), and the Grow Wild Programme (led by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew). She has collaborated with a range of countries in her research including Norway, Sweden, and Australia. She spent 14 months in Defra in 2012 in its Centre for Expertise on Influencing Behaviour. To find out more about her research see: https://www.forestresearch.gov.uk/staff/liz-obrien/