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Frequently asked questions

Please explore our frequently asked questions below; click on a question to see the response.

What is The Forest of Biologists?

The Forest of Biologists is a living and growing forest that has been created as part of a new biodiversity initiative that celebrates the author and reviewer contributions to the journals of The Company of Biologists. For every Research Article and Review article that is published, a real tree is planted in new forest and a representation of that tree appears in a virtual forest. In addition to planting new trees, we are also funding the restoration and protection of ancient woodland and dedicating these trees to our peer reviewers, who help us protect the integrity of the scientific record. The Forest of Biologists is a symbol of the work of the biologists whose research and expertise fills our journals, and whose inspiring ideas help us to better understand our world.

Why has The Company of Biologists chosen to create a forest?

Our focus on the creation, restoration and protection of precious woodland habitats reflects widespread concern among biologists worldwide about climate change and a global decline in biodiversity. After nearly 100 years of publishing journals, facilitating scientific meetings and providing charitable grants to support our communities, we want to play our part in supporting biology too. The Company of Biologists is a UK charity and the financial support for these woodlands comes from our charitable funds. In linking this initiative to our authors and peer reviewers, we also wanted to acknowledge the extraordinary support we receive from the communities that embrace our journals – Development, Journal of Cell Science, Journal of Experimental Biology, Disease Models & Mechanisms, and Biology Open.

How many trees will you be planting on behalf of authors?

During 2023 and 2024, we are planting one tree for each Research Article and Review article we publish – this means the planting of several thousand new trees. Thus, our authors’ contributions to biological knowledge now also contribute to improving and sustaining biodiversity. This initiative is conducted in partnership with the Woodland Trust, with long-term management and protection in mind. The Woodland Trust is the UK’s largest woodland conservation charity and focuses on the role that trees and woods play in tackling the threats of climate change and nature loss.

Is there a real-life forest for authors’ trees, or just a digital representation of a forest on your website?

The Forest of Biologists is a real living forest that is located within the Young People’s Forest at Mead in Derbyshire. The site of the forest is a large, disused, open-cast coal mine that is now being restored back to its original native woodland. All of the trees being planted are UK sourced and grown, and are fully traceable back to the seed. The forest site will include biodiverse ponds, open spaces, and species-rich grassland and thus be a complex and diverse set of habitats for supporting biodiversity. Watch our forest video, in which Publisher Claire Moulton shows you around the actual Forest of Biologists.

What types of trees are being planted?

Currently we are working with sites in the UK, and therefore we are planting a range of native UK tree species. The range of species that is being planted is reflected in the virtual trees appearing in our online forest. This includes silver birch, oak, lime, alder, rowan and hawthorn. This biodiverse mix of species reduces the risks of vulnerability to diseases and pests.

Why are you also protecting woodland on behalf of peer reviewers?

Ancient woodlands are some of the rarest and most biodiverse habitats in the UK and home to more threatened species than any other terrestrial habitat in the country. Many of these ancient sites within the UK have become degraded. Thus, restoring these ancient woodlands to their original condition has an enormous potential to promote and sustain biodiversity.

Where is this ancient woodland and how is it being restored and protected?

Great Knott Wood is located on the shore of Lake Windermere within the Lake District National Park. It is an ancient woodland that was severely degraded though replacement with conifer plantations during the early part of the 20th century. It was also severely damaged during Storm Arwen. In partnership with the Woodland Trust we are protecting many ancient native trees within the original woodland. This includes a range of broadleaf trees such as sessile oak, sycamore, ash, alder, beech and yew. The Woodland Trust are also gradually removing non-native species, allowing self seeding and replanting of new native trees. Watch our forest video, in which Publisher Claire Moulton shows you around the actual Forest of Biologists.

What’s involved in the protection work?

Restoration efforts include the protection of veteran trees and deadwood, removal of non-native species, and the gradual thinning of the canopy to carefully increase light levels. Together these activities will help counteract biodiversity loss and protect these habitats for future generations.

How will this reflect peer reviewers’ efforts?

We’re funding this protection and restoration work on behalf of our peer reviewers. For each peer review that is completed (whether the article is accepted for publication or not) we will dedicate a tree to our peer reviewers and a virtual representation of that tree will appear in the online forest. A single tree will be assigned to the reviewer for each paper that they review irrespective of how many rounds of peer review that occur.

Why create a virtual forest?

The Forest of Biologists is a clear and visible statement of our commitment to biodiversity. It is there to provide a way for our authors and reviewers to keep track of our initiative, and to take part in the journey. We hope that The Forest of Biologists will inspire the biological science community and the next generation of research scientists.

Which article types are eligible for a tree?

We will be planting a new tree for every Research Article and for every peer-reviewed review-type article in each of our five journals. Examples of specific article types are listed below:

  • Development: includes Research Articles and Reports, Techniques and Resources papers, Reviews, Hypotheses, Primers, Spotlights and Development at a Glance poster articles
  • Journal of Cell Science: includes Research Articles, Short Reports, Tools and Resources articles, Reviews, Essays, Hypotheses, Opinions and Cell Science at a Glance poster articles
  • Journal of Experimental Biology: includes Research Articles, Methods & Techniques and Short Communications, Reviews and Commentaries
  • Disease Models & Mechanisms: includes Research Articles, Reviews, Perspectives, Clinical Puzzles, At a Glance poster articles and Special Articles
  • Biology Open: includes Research Articles, Methods & Techniques articles, Reviews, Special Articles, Future Leader Reviews and A Year at the Forefront Reviews

A tree has been planted in my name – how do I find it on the website?

When an “article” tree is planted in the online forest, the corresponding author will receive a link to their unique tree url (on the date of the article’s online publication). For our peer reviewers, we will add trees to the online forest every few months (so that they’re not associated with any specific article) and at that point reviewers will receive a link to their unique tree url. Both authors and reviewers can click on the link in the email they received, which takes them directly to that tree on the website. This will provide the information on what species of tree it is and where it can be found.

Can I search for specific trees?

You can use the search function in the virtual forest to find trees based on the title of the published article or using the name of the author or peer reviewer. When the forest is a little larger we will expand the search functionality to provide new ways to interact with this resource.

How come my tree appears in a different location on the website than it did last time I checked in?

The forest that you see on forest.biologists.com is a digital representation of the real trees being planted and preserved. As the forest grows – or if you view different subsets of trees – the way the digital forest is laid out on the website might change. However, the tree that has been assigned to you, or your paper, will remain the same.

Can I visit my real-life tree?

If you’re in the UK, then authors might wish to visit the Young People’s Forest at Mead in Derbyshire and peer reviewers might wish to explore Great Knott Wood at Lakeland in the Lake District National Park. You won’t be able to identify your specific tree (as the real trees are not labelled) but you can explore the woodlands in which your trees have been planted and protected on your behalf.

For more information about these Woodland Trust sites, please see The Young People’s Forest at Mead, Great Knott Wood or refer to the Woodland Trust website for the latest information on how to visit their sites.

I peer reviewed a paper recently – why do I not see a tree?

Virtual representations of our peer reviewers’ trees will be added to the forest periodically so that there’s no association with specific articles and that peer reviewers retain their anonymity. This means that your tree might not appear on the website until a few months after you completed your review for us. Rest assured that your contribution is already making an impact in the real-life woodland and that you will soon see this represented on the website.

Please note that at the moment we are only able to allocate trees to peer reviewers who have worked with us directly. If you reviewed an article through Review Commons that was then published in one of our journals, we will only be able to allocate you a tree if the journal requested re-review of the transferred article.

I have been assigned a dog rose for my published paper. But isn’t this technically a shrub?

Yes, the dog rose is officially a shrub and not a tree, though it can grow up to three meters tall when well supported. The list of trees that we have available to assign to authors is based on what the Woodland Trust are actually planting in the Young People’s Forest at Mead. And though not officially a tree, the dog rose plays an important part in the biodiversity of this newly created forest, especially as it supplies insects with nectar and birds with fruit. This is why we have chosen to also support the planting of dog rose and why you can find it in our digital forest.

What happens if an article is retracted after publication?

Fortunately, retraction of published articles is quite uncommon. If it were to happen, the tree that was assigned to the published article will remain in place. There will be no consequences for the trees planted in the real life forest. When you click on the tree in the virtual forest, it will have a reference to the retraction.