Renewing biodiversity through a people-in-nature approach (RENEW)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Vice Chancellor


We are in a biodiversity crisis. A million species of plants and animals are threatened with global extinction, and wildlife populations across much of the planet have been dramatically reduced, perhaps by as much as a half in recent decades. This is of profound concern because biodiversity underpins human existence. Biodiversity provides the foundation of our economies, livelihoods, food security, health and quality of life. Increasing numbers of people, organisations and governments recognise the need to reverse the perilous state of our ecological inheritance. However, while there is unprecedented willingness to act, what we do not know is what will work most effectively to renew biodiversity and ensure continued delivery of its benefits.

The Renewing biodiversity through a people-in-nature approach (RENEW) programme will develop solutions to the renewal of biodiversity. We will work, with a sense of urgency, to reshape understanding and action on biodiversity renewal across scales, creating knowledge at the cutting edge of global debates and policy development, and influencing national institutions, communities and individuals. We know that understanding of, and action on, renewal must take a step change and we will focus on the agency of people in nature, both as part of the problem and as the solution. We focus on a set of challenges: how popular support for biodiversity renewal can be harnessed; how populations that are disengaged, disadvantaged, or disconnected from nature can benefit from inclusion in solutions development; how renewal activities can be designed and delivered by diverse sets of land-managers and interest groups; and how biodiversity renewal can most effectively be embedded in finance and business activities (as has occurred with carbon accounting and climate change). This sits alongside the scientific and technical development necessary to underpin solutions options.

Biodiversity renewal is a complex and whole system problem. The solutions require the creation of a new kind of inclusive and diverse research community, one that transcends traditional boundaries between the disciplines needed to tackle the environmental crises of the Anthropocene. Solutions also need to address the inequalities and lack of diversity found in current renewal practices. RENEW has therefore prioritised partnership building, to allow us to combine research with experiment, learning, sharing, outreach and impact, across relevant organisations and wider communities.

Our approach means that practical impact is guaranteed. With the National Trust as co-owners of RENEW, we will have significant reach through their membership, outreach programs and public voice. Alongside other key partners in RENEW, our links are responsible for or have influence over much of the UK landscape in which biodiversity renewal activities need to occur. We will use the many landscape-scale nature activities currently underway (or planned in the near future) to develop learning, as if they were 'real time' experiments.

The UK is one of the most biodiversity depleted countries in the world. Our ways of working in RENEW, the knowledge we develop, and the solutions we propose, will be of international importance. The lessons we learn will enable future biodiversity researchers and practitioners around the world to do better science, and deliver fairer outcomes.




Neil Andrew Robert Gow (Principal Investigator)
Catriona Mckinnon (Co-Investigator)
Angela Margaret Cassidy (Co-Investigator) orcid
Kevin John Gaston (Co-Investigator)
Matt Lobley (Co-Investigator) orcid
Amy Rebecca Binner (Co-Investigator)
Oliver James (Co-Investigator) orcid
Lewis Roland Elliott (Co-Investigator) orcid
Rosemary Susan Hails (Co-Investigator)
Gail Whiteman (Co-Investigator) orcid
Sarah Louise Crowley (Co-Investigator) orcid
Ben Groom (Co-Investigator)
Susan Molyneux-Hodgson (Co-Investigator) orcid
Regan Early (Co-Investigator) orcid
Matthew Spencer Heard (Co-Investigator) orcid
Timothy Michael Lenton (Co-Investigator)
John Wedgwood Clarke (Co-Investigator) orcid
Gavin Shaddick (Co-Investigator)
Charles Masquelier (Co-Investigator) orcid
Ilya Mark Maclean (Co-Investigator)
Xiaoyu Yan (Co-Investigator) orcid
Rebecca Lovell (Co-Investigator)
WEI XIN (Researcher) orcid
Maria Eugenia Correa Cano (Researcher) orcid
Peter Richard White (Researcher)
Joanne Katherine Garrett (Researcher) orcid
Caroline Nye (Researcher) orcid
Rebecca Wheeler (Researcher) orcid
Thomas William Powell (Researcher)


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