Using nudge theory to reduce forest littering by creating 'Communitree' faces to keep a watchful eye on the forest.

Every year 250 tonnes of litter is removed from the Forest of Dean. As part of the #LoveYourForest rural anti-litter campaign, we explored different ways to encourage people to dispose of their litter properly rather than leaving it to wallow on the forest floor for decades.

We discovered some research suggesting our behaviour when we’re being watched is very different to when we’re acting unobserved. We were intrigued to see if watchful eyes could be used as a way of stopping rural littering. This led to the creation of the ‘Communitrees’ who kept a watchful eye over the Forest of Dean in summer 2016, reminding visitors to keep the forest clean and green by taking their litter home.

The 50 weird and wonderful tree faces were designed by school children and brought to life by local artists, using reclaimed materials and litter from the Forest floor. We also created a forest Communitree map so visitors could follow tree face trails and tick off ones they could spot.

Achieved so far

The Communitrees were piloted in 2016 as part of the wider #LoveYourForest anti-litter campaign in the Forest of Dean and Coleford. The campaign generated a high level of local engagement; 30 organisations contributed to the initial research and scoping discussions; 14 primary schools and 2 secondary schools participated in anti-littering educational activities. At least 2,850 local people were actively engaged in the campaign.

Litter monitoring around the Communitree installations indicated a 30% reduction in local litter levels and 82% of people polled would like to see similar projects in the future.