Landscape Regeneration Solutions to the Interlinked Extinction and Climate Crises that support Sustainable Development

Lead Research Organisation: University of Cambridge
Department Name: Plant Sciences


Nature-based solutions (NbS*) are responses to societal challenges that involve working with nature to deliver benefits for both people and biodiversity. They include protecting existing ecosystems, restoring degraded ecosystems and managing working lands more sustainably. NbS are of national strategic importance in supporting the UK's net zero climate targets and the Government's ambition to improve the environment within a generation. They have gained international significance too: 131 countries include NbS in their UNFCCC climate change pledges. If well designed and robustly implemented, NbS will deliver multiple benefits for climate change mitigation and adaptation, enhance biodiversity, promote human wellbeing and support economic recovery. The challenge is that the implementation of NbS is often piecemeal, narrow in focus, and undermined by weak research/policy/practice connections. UCam-Regen will redress this problem by applying its breadth of expertise in a practically driven analysis that provides the knowledge and tools needed to address several challenges facing the delivery of NbS:

NbS can contribute significantly to achieving net zero emissions, although the extent of that contribution is limited by the finite amount of land available and critically by the effects of climate change on ecosystems. NbS are not an alternative to decarbonising the economy and must be accompanied by swift, deep emissions cuts; they must be designed with and for local communities; and they must deliver measurable benefits for biodiversity and be designed to be resilient to climate change i.e. a 'whole systems approach' must be applied - as in UCam-Regen - that integrates economies, societies, and nature.

Scaling up, restoration and protection of key ecosystems across UK landscapes requires (a) better protection of natural habitats in the planning system; (b) reforming agriculture and forestry subsidies to better support actions that benefit both climate regulation and biodiversity; (c) connecting habitats across landscapes, building on the emerging Nature Recovery Networks; (d) making it compulsory to build an NbS framework into all new developments, and (e) making space on land for natural systems to adapt to climate change.

There is a need to develop robust metrics to assess the effectiveness of a wide range of NbS for carbon sequestration, water regulation, biodiversity and human wellbeing. Well-designed new financing mechanisms, including tax incentives and public subsidies for ecosystem stewardship that meet the NbS guidelines and support climate change mitigation, climate change adaptation and biodiversity, could be instrumental for upscaling NbS and improving social-ecological resilience to climate change, both in the UK and globally.

UCam-Regen addresses these challenges by applying a whole systems approach to deliver knowledge and tools necessary to regenerate UK landscapes using NbS approaches. At the heart of the proposal is a recognition that local communities must be engaged with decisions regarding their landscape's future and co-produce solutions, informed by scientific assessments of the optimal landscape management approaches to maximise the delivery of ecosystem services.

*We take policy recommendation and definitions from a COP26 Universities Network Briefing led by Prof Coomes



Anne Ferguson-Smith (Principal Investigator)
Andrew Colin Rice (Co-Investigator)
Emily Shuckburgh (Co-Investigator)
Andrew Balmford (Co-Investigator)
Laura Diaz Anadon (Co-Investigator)
Christopher Guy Sandbrook (Co-Investigator)
Shailaja Fennell (Co-Investigator) orcid
Thomas Spencer (Co-Investigator) orcid
Carol Brayne (Co-Investigator)
Andrew David Friend (Co-Investigator)
Andrew Joseph Tanentzap (Co-Investigator)
Jerome Anthony Neufeld (Co-Investigator)
William James Sutherland (Co-Investigator)
Carl Henrik Ek (Co-Investigator) orcid
David Anthony Coomes (Co-Investigator) orcid
Elizabeth Anne Stockdale (Co-Investigator) orcid
Roderic Jones (Co-Investigator)
Benjamin Geoffrey Lang (Co-Investigator) orcid
Jennifer Gabrys (Co-Investigator)
Adam Francis Antonio Pellegrini (Co-Investigator) orcid
Chiara Giorio (Co-Investigator) orcid
Richard Brian Bradbury (Co-Investigator) orcid
Paul Dupree (Co-Investigator)
Jennifer Howard-Grenville (Co-Investigator) orcid
Shaun Fitzgerald (Co-Investigator) orcid
John Clarkson (Co-Investigator)
Liliana Janik (Co-Investigator)
Lynn Dicks (Co-Investigator)
Srinivasan Keshav (Co-Investigator) orcid
A Woods (Co-Investigator)
Alexandra Turchyn (Co-Investigator) orcid
Zhaoyang Liu (Co-Investigator) orcid
Manish Chhowalla (Co-Investigator)
David Thomas (Researcher)
Rekha Avinash Bhangaonkar (Researcher)
Oscar Rolen Aldred (Researcher Co-Investigator) orcid


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