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Ecotones – Bath Spa University

Ecotones: Soundscapes of Trees

International project exploring environmental issues through the soundscapes of the natural world.

This international, interdisciplinary research network seeks new ways to communicate an awareness of environmental issues through the soundscapes of trees. It combines insights and practices from music, ecology, conservation, social science, health and wellbeing, and education to address the global challenges of urban development and environmentally sustainable growth.

New methods for cultural engagement interventions that focus on listening to nature in urban and rural environments, in South Korea and in the UK, draw connections between traditional music and nature, contributing to our understanding of the relationship between forests and human health.

Different disciplinary perspectives will help to evaluate trees and ecosystem services, climate change, cultural values, and human health improvement as major, interconnected considerations in worldwide urban development.

Between February 2022 and July 2023 outputs will include a soundscape mapping exercise to be developed as a tool for community participation in biodiversity monitoring.

Project support

The project is supported by funding from an ESRC/AHRC UK and South Korea Social Science, Arts and Humanities Connections Grant.

Ecotones storymap

Find out more about the project and view updates as the project progresses on the Ecotones storymap site.

Ecotones storymap


Professor Amanda Bayley (Bath Spa University, Principal Investigator)

Amanda Bayley is Professor of Music at Bath Spa University. She leads an interdisciplinary research group on Intercultural Communication through Practice, is co-editor of a new book series with Routledge on Transcultural Musical Practices, and co-investigator on Interactive Research in Music as Sound (2017-2022). The Ecotones network develops her work on Interspecies Listening (2021) and Hear Water (2022).

Dr Ian Thornhill (University of Manchester, Co-Investigator)

Ian Thornhill is a Lecturer in Planning and Environmental Management at the University of Manchester and was a Reader in Ecology and Nature Conservation at Bath Spa University. He has an industry-based background having worked in the private, public and charitable sectors. His research interests are primarily in the field of freshwater ecology, how aquatic ecosystems function and peoples connections with them. Increasingly, his work explores novel ways to engage members of the public with environmental issues and to connect people with nature.

Professor Won Sop Shin (Chungbuk National University, South Korea, Co-Investigator)

Won Sop Shin is a professor at Chungbuk National University in Korea and holds the Chair of the Korea Forest Therapy Forum. Won Sop Shin obtained his PhD in forestry in 1992 from the University of Toronto, Canada.

His research experience conducting projects on forests and human health spans 30 years, his main interest being the psychological benefits of forest and nature experiences. During the years of 2013-2017 he also served as Minister of Korea Forest Service (KFS) and Chair of the Committee on Forestry, FAO. During his term, KFS developed many new forest policies relating to using forests for human health and welfare.

He is now a Head of the Graduate Department of Forest Therapy at Chungbuk National University, enrolling about 150 students in Masters’ and PhD programmes. Won Sop Shin is also working actively with international organisations such as the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine.

Dr Jin Gun Kim (Chungbuk National University, South Korea, Co-Investigator)

Jingun Kim obtained his PhD in forest therapy in 2021 from Chungbuk National University in Korea. Dr Jingun Kim is a researcher at the Korea Forest Therapy Forum. His major research interest is the physiological and psychological benefits of forest exposure. He is researching the effects of forest healing programmes on specific patients with diseases such as mild dementia and depression.

Network members

Dr Victor Beumer (Earthwatch Europe)

Victor Beumer is a landscape ecologist working for Earthwatch Europe as a senior research lead for the Sustainable Cities programme. He works on nature-based solutions or green infrastructures in the built environment for climate adaptation or biodiversity. Victor obtained his PhD at Utrecht University (Netherlands) on water storage in groundwater dependent areas.

After his PhD he worked almost 10 years for the Dutch knowledge institute Deltares focusing on nature in cities and how to make use of that for climate adaptation and other functionalities.

He has been working for Earthwatch for the last two-and-a-half years including setting up the UK Tiny Forest programme of which he is leading its first steps into Europe at the moment.

Professor Tim Collins

Tim Collins is an environmental artist who set up the Collins + Goto Studio with Reiko Goto for long-term projects that involve socially engaged environmental art-led research and practices, with a particular focus on empathic relationship with more-than-human others. Tim’s research interests include aesthetic and ethical ideas about our changing environment with a focus on how art shifts values in relationship to new ideas and experiences.

Recent work includes sculptural instrument PLEIN AIR which involves a live tree and translates photosynthesis and transpiration into real-time sound. It was presented in North Carolina (2019) Glasgow (2017) and Cologne (2016).

Dr Reiko Goto

Reiko Goto is an environmental artist who set up the Collins + Goto Studio with Tim Collins for long-term projects that involve socially engaged environmental art-led research and practices, with a particular focus on empathic relationship with more-than-human others. Reiko’s artistic subject matter is the life of nature. By contemplating nature, she seeks to renew her identity. Her research interests include the relationship between humans, living things and the environment.

Recent work includes sculptural instrument PLEIN AIR which involves a live tree and translates photosynthesis and transpiration into real-time sound. It was presented in North Carolina (2019) Glasgow (2017) and Cologne (2016).

Dr Daniel Hayhow (Earthwatch UK)

Daniel Hayhow is Research Lead (Urban Biodiversity) at Earthwatch Europe. Daniel provides scientific leadership on the research elements of urban nature-based solutions, including oversight on citizen-science developments, data collection and analysis for the Tiny Forest programme.

A conservation scientist with ten years of postdoctoral experience in conservation research and citizen science in Europe, Daniel has worked as a researcher in academic and NGO settings. Before joining Earthwatch, he worked in the Species Research and Monitoring section of the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, where he developed and delivered multiple large-scale and high-profile projects providing the critical evidence base for applied conservation activity. He led on the 2016 and 2019 UK State of Nature reports on environmental monitoring.

Dr Hyelim Kim (performer and Visiting Research Fellow, Bath Spa University)

Hyelim Kim is a composer and taegŭm (Korean flute) soloist, and Visiting Research Fellow at Bath Spa University. She has been performing professionally since 2000, specialising in traditional repertoire and various crossover genres. She has produced five recordings and regularly performs around the world. She is a regular member of the Club Inégales and the Third Orchestra (Barbican Arts Centre). Based on her belief that Korean heritage can act as an artistic inspiration for the contemporary and cosmopolitan environment of the UK, Hyelim has also set up and leads the music and dance group, the Shilla Ensemble. Her book, Tradition and Creativity in Korean Taegŭm Flute Performance was published by Routledge in 2021.

Dr Jin Sook Kim (Research Forest, South Korea)

Jinsook Kim obtained her PhD in forest therapy in 2021 from Chungbuk National University in Korea. Dr Jinsook Kim is a director of Daegwallyeong Healing Forest Center in Korea. Since 1999 she has been involved as an NGO (Forest for Life) volunteer. She is the first forest commentator and forest healing instructor in the region.

Her main research interest is psychological recovery found in the sound and landscape of the forest.

Dr Liz O’Brien (Forest Research, UK)

Liz O’Brien is head of a dynamic Society and Environment Research Group at Forest Research that focuses on understanding the complex relationships between forestry, the environment and society. She is currently leading a five year interdisciplinary programme on the "Societal benefits of trees, woods and forests".

Liz was involved in the United Kingdom National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-on project on the "shared, plural and cultural values of ecosystems". She has a strong focus on the health and wellbeing benefits of trees and woods and on the impacts of tree pests and diseases on the ways in which people value them.

Dr Mojgan Rabiey (Birmingham Institute of Forest Research, UK)

Mojgan Rabiey is a senior postdoctoral fellow at the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research and University of Birmingham. Her research is to understand the impact of climate and environmental change on woodlands and forests, the resilience of trees to invasive diseases and how to stop tree pests and diseases. She also has interests in biocontrol approaches to treat tree diseases. Mojgan’s research will help to understand the wider importance of trees and forests to human and non-human actors.

Dr Jeonghee Song (Chungbuk National University, South Korea)

Jeonghee Song obtained her PhD in forest therapy in 2013 from Chungbuk National University in Korea. Dr Jeonghee Song teaches certification courses as a forest healing instructor and is an international expert on aromatherapy. Starting as a forest commentator in 2002, Jeonghee became a forest education teacher at the National Arboretum in 2006.

Dr Samantha Walton (Bath Spa University)

Dr Samantha Walton is Reader in Modern Literature at Bath Spa University, director of the Research Centre for Environmental Humanities and co-director of the Research Centre in Mental Health, Creativity and Wellbeing. Her recent research has focused on the relationship between nature and mental health in the context of ecological crisis and late capitalism, and the cultural work of imagining life without fossil fuels. She has held research fellowships at the Rachel Carson Center, Munich and IASH, University of Edinburgh, and in 2016-2018 was an ECR Leadership Fellow on the project ‘Cultures of Nature and Wellbeing: Connecting Health and Ecology through Literature.’ Her most recent book, Everybody Needs Beauty: In Search of the Nature Cure was published by Bloomsbury (UK) in 2021, with French, Italian and Spanish translations to follow.

Stevie Wishart (composer/performer, Brussels)

Stevie Wishart is an English composer with her roots in improvisation and early music. A performer on the violin, and the hurdy-gurdy, (a medieval stringed keyboard instrument), she has a distinctive style which combines a strong classical foundation with an experimental approach, creating an innovative and eclectic body of contemporary work and commissions.

Stevie has an increasing interest in ecology and the natural world, using both birdsong and electronics to broaden her creative scope. She is currently working with French group Ensemble Variances, Bristol New Music Festival, poet Alice Oswald amongst others. In 2022, she will also be undertaking a residency in Aldeburgh, Suffolk UK working with composer Thierry Pécou studying the environment around Snape Maltings, and the home of Benjamin Britten to create a new composition, in addition to contributing to this network.

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