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

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

Abstract

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 https://www.gla.ac.uk/media/Media_790171_smxx.pdf

People

ORCID iD

Anne Ferguson-Smith (Principal Investigator)
Elizabeth Stockdale (Co-Investigator)
Shaun Fitzgerald (Co-Investigator)
Richard Bradbury (Co-Investigator)
Christopher Sandbrook (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-9938-4934
Jerome Neufeld (Co-Investigator)
Alexandra Turchyn (Co-Investigator)
Carol Brayne (Co-Investigator)
Benjamin Lang (Co-Investigator)
A Woods (Co-Investigator)
Emily Shuckburgh (Co-Investigator)
Andrew Rice (Co-Investigator)
Jennifer Howard-Grenville (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-3737-0465
Shailaja Fennell (Co-Investigator)
Carl Ek (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-1302-6309
Manish Chhowalla (Co-Investigator)
William Sutherland (Co-Investigator)
Andrew Friend (Co-Investigator)
Andrew Tanentzap (Co-Investigator)
Zhaoyang Liu (Co-Investigator)
Liliana Janik (Co-Investigator)
John Clarkson (Co-Investigator)
Rob Field (Co-Investigator)
Tom Finch (Co-Investigator)
Thomas Spencer (Co-Investigator)
Lynn Dicks (Co-Investigator)
Chiara Giorio (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7821-7398
Roderic Jones (Co-Investigator)
Adam Pellegrini (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0003-0418-4129
Ross Morrison (Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0002-1847-3127
Andrew Balmford (Co-Investigator)
Srinivasan Keshav (Co-Investigator)
Jennifer Gabrys (Co-Investigator)
David Coomes (Co-Investigator)
Laura Diaz Anadon (Co-Investigator)
Paul Dupree (Co-Investigator)
Rekha Bhangaonkar (Researcher)
David Thomas (Researcher)
Oscar Aldred (Researcher Co-Investigator) orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-5207-7905

Publications

10 25 50

Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
NE/W00495X/1 31/01/2022 30/01/2027
2748407 Studentship NE/W00495X/1 01/10/2022 30/09/2026 Liam Wakefield
2730125 Studentship NE/W00495X/1 01/10/2022 31/03/2026 Neil Mahon
 
Description House of Commons' cross-party Environmental Audit Committee
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a guidance/advisory committee
URL https://committees.parliament.uk/work/6880/sustainable-timber-and-deforestation/news/172336/what-imp...
 
Description Member and Vice-Chair of the European Scientific Advisory Board on Climate Change
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a guidance/advisory committee
URL https://www.eea.europa.eu/about-us/climate-advisory-board/
 
Description Shaun Fitzgerald at COP27
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a guidance/advisory committee
Impact TBC
 
Description British Council Climate Connections Visiting Fellowship
Amount £100,000 (GBP)
Funding ID RI2022_03 (Uni ref. G118980) 
Organisation British Council 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2023 
End 03/2024
 
Description AgriFood4NetZero Workshop: Food/Net Zero Nexus in the Fens 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Hosted a Cambridge satellite meeting for the "Food/Net Zero Nexus in the Fens Workshop" with the UKRI AgriFood4NetZero Network. Inc. talk by Chris Evans, Co-I from CLR. March 2023.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description Cambridge Botanic Garden Newsletter 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We were asked to write an article for the Cambridge Botanical Garden, this led to an interesting discussion around their 'Fens' display and then some fieldwork to learn about the soils in the garden. This was then covered in their newsletter.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://twitter.com/CLR_Cambridge/status/1623627377300348928
 
Description Cambridge105 Radio Interview 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Laurie Friday (Programme Manager) and Tom Marquand (PhD student) were interviewed on the breakfast show by a local/regional radio station. Laurie and Tom answered questions about the work of the Cambridge research team and the particular socio-economic and environmental science challenges facing the Fenland.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://cambridge105.co.uk/breakfast-01-03-2023-2/
 
Description Cambridgeshire Fens Climate Panel 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Cambridgeshire Fens Climate Panel with Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR). Commissioned by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Independent Commission on Climate.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description Defra Lowland Peat/BEIS Wasted Peat Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Organised by UKCEH - Chris Evans. Broad stakeholder meeting with wide community of researchers and stakeholders, e.g. DEFRA, BEIS, Wildlife Trusts, Natural England, Environment Agency, FenlandSOIL, ADAS, Farmers, Broads Authority, Local Government as well as a wide variety of academic researchers, including CLR researchers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description Guardian Interview about carbon credit schemes 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Coomes was interviewed by the Guardian newspaper about some recent research on some of the challenges being faced by companies trading in and/or certifying carbon offsetting. Verra have now changed their business model. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/mar/10/biggest-carbon-credit-certifier-replace-rainforest-offsets-scheme-verra-aoe
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2023/jan/18/revealed-forest-carbon-offsets-biggest-provider-...
 
Description New website and Twitter account 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact New website and twitter account launched.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022,2023
URL https://twitter.com/CLR_Cambridge
 
Description Paludiculture: Exploring the way forward for wetter farming in England 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact A workshop was organized and convened in Cambridge in January 2022 in partnership with the National Institute for Agricultural Botany (NIAB), FenlandSOIL and Natural England around the future prospects for paludiculture, ie the potential for farming on re-wetted peatlands. There were approximately 100 attendees over 2 days and speakers from some European countries with large expanses of lowland peat that is or could be used for paludiculture.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://www.paludiculture.org.uk/event-details/exploring-the-way-forward-for-wetter-farming-in-engla...
 
Description Talk at Cambridge Science Festival, 2022 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Shaun Fitzgerald gave a talk at the Cambridge Science Festival 2022 on a theme around the ethics of energy: with the focus on cutting emissions rapidly and the acceleration to NetZero, what are the ethical implication for what is billed as the next global revolution?
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.energy.cam.ac.uk/events/cambridge-festival-2022-ethics-energy
 
Description Talk by Adam Pellegrini 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Adam Pellegrini (Co-I) "New framework for carbon offsets in global drylands" Energy and Environment Group lecture series. March 2023
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
 
Description Talk by Tom Marquand 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The East Anglia Fens: Crop Productivity and Climate Vulnerability", Cambridge Global Food Security, Coffee Break Seminars, November 2022.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://sms.cam.ac.uk/media/4109817
 
Description Varsity Article by Tom Marquand 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact ? T I Marquand & S Salhan (2023), Cambridge at the Bottom of Tripos for Sustainability: Climate Expert breaks down how student climate activists can help, Varsity
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2023
URL https://www.varsity.co.uk/science/24940/
 
Description Wicken Fen Open Day for Farmers 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Dr Laurie Friday hosted a delegation of Fenland farmers at Wicken Fen to talk to them about conservation and biodiversity in the Fens.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
 
Description expert panel to discuss passive cooling in a heating world 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Fitzgerald was a panel member discussing the role of passive colling in the broader context of emissions reduction in tackling climate change.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.csap.cam.ac.uk/news/article-passive-cooling-hotter-world/