A research programme in the Department of Landscape, University of
Sheffield from 1993 to the present has developed radically new types of
designed urban plant communities that support a rich native biodiversity,
embody low carbon, and contribute to storm-water infiltration into soils,
reducing urban flooding. These communities are simple to maintain,
cost-effective, and highly attractive. This combination of factors has led
to wide application in practice by government agencies, local authorities,
and by the public in private gardens. We were invited to apply our
approach in full at the London 2012 Olympic Park, the largest and most
high profile Landscape Architecture project in the world in 2012, and this
in itself has had great impact on international thought and practice.
The applied use of earthworms in soil restoration, bio-monitoring,
agro-ecosystems and organic waste management has had wide-reaching impact
on the commercial sector and the public. A variety of commercial groups
(such as the Forestry Commission and BAE Systems) have benefitted from
this research in both the UK and abroad. In addition to this, earthworm
research has also reached the public domain through outreach activities
and media coverage. For example, this UoA was involved in a National Open
Air Laboratories campaign. Our earthworm identification guide produced in
collaboration with the Natural History Museum in London has now been
widely distributed and used.
Newcastle research into improving commercial soil-based greenhouse
productivity has led to an
increase in profitability (due to higher yields and lower costs) and a
significant reduction in the
negative environmental impacts of commercial, organic and other soil-based
production systems in Europe (UK, Greece and Crete). Newcastle's research
has led to improved
profits to UK organic tomato farmers estimated to be up to
£100,000/ha/year and has allowed large
scale organic greenhouse production to be a viable option to meet the
demands of the UK organic
market. In Greece increased profits are estimated at €25,000 per ha/year
and in Crete the
estimated value of reduced soil disease control and pest management is
€110,000 per ha/year.
Professor Gowing and his associates' research demonstrated the
sensitivity of grassland species
to soil moisture regime. They developed a method for quantifying the
relationship between plant
community composition and soil moisture regime which showed that
controlling water levels in
traditional ways led to conservation of important plant species and/or
enhanced diversity. This
research led to the Environment Agency issuing practical guidelines to
site managers for these
internationally important sites, with a lead section written by Gowing.
Advice has been given
directly to owners and managers via the Floodplain Meadows Partnership led
by the OU,
engendering parallel studies abroad.
Research conducted by the University of Reading between 2002 and 2007
influenced management options mandated under the UK Government's
agri-environmental schemes. Several innovative large-scale manipulative
field experiments were used to measure the diversity of different groups
of invertebrates in response to various management regimes in uncultivated
field margins of farmland. The outcomes of this research fed directly into
agri-environment scheme options and provided supportive evidence for
management advice and advocacy work by several environmental
non-government organisations. Changes in the management of field margins
brought about through government scheme agreements and advocacy efforts by
conservation groups has led to enhanced farmland biodiversity and improved
habitat for threatened wildlife valued by the general public and
Impacts: I) Improved provision of environmental services in
Belize, including the creation of plant
reference collections / databases and the training of conservation
professionals and students.
II) Land-management policy formation by the Government of Belize and NGOs.
Significance and reach: Over the period 2009 - July 2013 there has
been a step-change in the
quality of biodiversity monitoring carried out by NGOs and the Government
of Belize; including the
latter being better able to meet international reporting requirements.
Over the same period, 40
conservation professionals have been trained in Belize.
Underpinned by: Research into savanna plant diversity, led by the
University of Edinburgh (1996 -
The Sinai Baton Blue is the world's smallest butterfly, and is restricted
to the St. Katherine Protectorate in the South Sinai region of Egypt.
Research by Francis Gilbert's group on climate change and biodiversity in
Egypt surveyed populations of the butterfly for the first time and ensured
it received IUCN Critically Endangered status. The butterfly became the
focus of biodiversity awareness campaigns in Egypt: appearing on a stamp,
in Government-backed educational programmes in schools, and as the
flagship species for conservation in Egypt's most important National Park.
Current work contributes to international conservation of this extremely
rare species and its host-plant, respecting indigenous Bedouin knowledge,
benefitting their tribal community, and ensuring international
conservation strategies incorporate local pastoralist traditions to
sustain the genetic diversity of the planet.
This case study describes the impact of the research of the Centre for
Earth and Ecosystem Responses to Environmental Change (CEEREC), MMU, on
the protection and restoration of native ecosystems and upland
semi-natural habitats that are affected by nitrogen pollution. CEEREC
investigates the harm caused by nitrogen pollution to a range of
semi-natural habitats. We also explore the impact of historic pollution in
upland Britain and the potential for recovery through ecological
restoration. Our research has informed evidence-based changes to UK, EU
and US emission control policy and on the mitigation and restoration
methods (e.g. `BeadaMoss™) of pollution affected landscapes.
This Unit's staff and associates have considerable expertise in land
management, focussing on two
issues faced in Africa; the management of communal rangelands and the
management of native
species for the benefit of local communities. Coventry University is a
recognized centre of global
knowledge on Prosopis, a series of economically and ecologically
important tree species, but also
widely-considered potentially serious weeds in many countries.
Underpinning research carried out at
Coventry was pivotal to the correct identification, evaluation and
subsequent management and
utilisation of the most common tropical species, Prosopis juliflora
and Prosopis pallida. Other
research, on the management of common rangelands, has provided an
understanding of the way
common land rights are expressed in communal areas and the social,
political and ecological factors
which govern them.
The Unit's research has led to economic impacts, including for
The Mesquite Company (Texas)
who generate USD 150,000 each year from the sale of Prosopis
products. The research has also
had impact on public policy and society in Kenya and South Africa.
In Kenya, the Government
changed its approach towards Prosopis from eradication towards
management and lifted a
blanket-ban on the use of plant-based charcoal as a result of the Unit's
research. This enabled the
Green Power Station (currently employing 2000 people) to be established.
In South Africa, policy
debate has been informed by research on the governance of common land. The
research has also
had impact on creativity, culture and society, informing public
and political debate in South
Africa, Kenya and India. Beneficiaries include businesses
developing new products and producing
energy; local communities in South Africa and Kenya, and the South African
Preziosi and his research group have taken a leading role in conducting
biodiversity research in
the Ecuadorian Amazon, working in collaboration with national and local
indigenous communities. It is critical to monitor and conserve
biodiversity in the Ecuadorian
Amazon and preserve this unique habitat for local, national and
international benefit. Preziosi's
research group have demonstrated that indigenous people can be trained to
accurately. The impact of introducing these new skills to local people in
the Payamino community
is that they have been empowered to locally monitor and adaptively manage
their own resources.
By educating local people about the importance of biodiversity, Preziosi's
research group have
changed the behaviours and attitudes of the community, leading to reduced
environmentally harmful practices.