Interdisciplinary Catalyst Activities – Field Work Tennis

In pairs, participants engage in back-and-forth conversations that are constructed to either accept or reject suggestions from the offering partner, with role-playing around an environmental research/restoration theme. This layered activity helps think through interdisciplinary critique as productive—rather than a hinderance—in research design and execution.

More information on the wokshop this activity was developed for here

More info on the Project: Innovative methods to connect and communicate between disciplines

Interdisciplinary Catalyst Activities – Object of Significance

Three groups engage in role-play, each group independently develops their own ‘rituals’ around a provided object, and these are then shared. The activity helps think about research and decision making when meanings placed on objects and ideas in the environment are different or in conflict between groups of people.

More information on the wokshop this activity was developed for here

More info on the Project: Innovative methods to connect and communicate between disciplines

Large-scale social surveys on people and nature relations: Report on the state of the art in the UK

Jasper Montana, Clare Ferguson and Tom Marshall

Collecting reliable and consistent data about people’s relationship with the natural environment is likely to be crucial to effective policy delivery by governments. Social surveys are a prominent tool in delivering this insight. In the UK, surveys on people’s relationship with nature are run by government bodies, nongovernmental organisations, academic researchers, and others.

This scoping assessment identifies the range of such surveys that are taking place within the UK (as of August 2023) and considers why survey data is being collected and by whom.

Achieving biodiversity net gain by addressing governance gaps underpinning ecological compensation policies


Biodiversity compensation policies have emerged around the world to address the ecological harms of infrastructure expansion, but they have historically experienced weak compliance. The English government is introducing a requirement that new infrastructure developments demonstrate they achieve a Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG). Previous research has highlighted governance gaps that risk undermining the policy’s ecological outcomes and explore the risks caused by capacity constraints in regulators. However, the magnitude of their effects on the policy’s potential biodiversity impacts remains unexplored. We collated BNG information from all new major developments across six early adopter councils from 2020–2022. We quantified the proportion of the biodiversity outcomes promised under BNG which are at risk of non-compliance, explored the variation in strategies that developments use to meet their biodiversity liabilities, and quantified the occurrence of simple errors in the biodiversity metric calculations. Large developments and energy infrastructure are more likely to meet their liability within their own development footprint, and small developments more likely to purchase offsets. We estimate that 27% of all biodiversity units fall within governance gaps that expose them to a high risk of non-compliance. Ideally, more robust governance mechanisms would be implemented to cover on-site biodiversity unit delivery. Alternatively, more of these units could be delivered through the off-site biodiversity offsetting; in the latter case, we estimate that the demand for offsets could rise by a factor of four, increasing the financial contributions generated by BNG for conservation activities on private land. Lastly, we find that 21% of applications contained a simple recurring error in their BNG calculations, half of which have already been accepted by councils, hinting at under-resourcing in councils assessing developments. Our findings demonstrate that resourcing and governance shortfalls risk undermining the policy’s effectiveness at halting biodiversity loss and require addressing to ensure the policy benefits nature.

This paper, co-authored by Andy Hector, Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery Theme lead notes that satellite observations of one of the world’s biggest ecological experiments on the island of Borneo have revealed that replanting logged forests with diverse mixtures of seedlings can significantly accelerate their recovery.

The experiment was set up by Professor Andy Hector and colleagues over twenty years ago as part of the SE Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP). This assessed the recovery of 125 different plots in an area of logged tropical forest that were sown with different combinations of tree species. The results revealed that plots replanted with a mixture of 16 native tree species showed faster recovery of canopy area and total tree biomass, compared to plots replanted with 4 or just 1 species. However, even plots that had been replanted with 1 tree species were recovering more quickly than those left to restore naturally.

Read the paper in Science Advances here 


Positive effects of tree diversity on tropical forest restoration in a field-scale experiment

Experiments under controlled conditions have established that ecosystem functioning is generally positively related to levels of biodiversity, but it is unclear how widespread these effects are in real-world settings and whether they can be harnessed for ecosystem restoration. We used remote-sensing data from the first decade of a long-term, field-scale tropical restoration experiment initiated in 2002 to test how the diversity of planted trees affected recovery of a 500-ha area of selectively logged forest measured using multiple sources of satellite data. Replanting using species-rich mixtures of tree seedlings with higher phylogenetic and functional diversity accelerated restoration of remotely sensed estimates of aboveground biomass, canopy cover, and leaf area index. Our results are consistent with a positive relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning in the lowland dipterocarp rainforests of SE Asia and demonstrate that using diverse
mixtures of species can enhance their initial recovery after logging.

Urban grassland and verge guidelines

Why do we need to change the way we manage urban grass? Although uniformly short grass used to be seen as a sign of good management, people now are becoming more aware of the value of nature and the need for more nature-friendly management techniques. Frequent mowing removes flowers that provide nectar for bees and butterflies. It removes the eggs that butterflies lay on grass stems, crushes caterpillars and other insect larvae, and can kill or injure other wildlife such as frogs, snakes and voles. Our guidance booklet outlines Best Practice for managing these spaces.

Transforming land use governance: Global targets without equity miss the mark
Biodiversity and Artificial Intelligence. Opportunities & Recommendations for Action

The report offers actionable recommendations for how governments, NGOs, researchers and companies can use AI to support biodiversity conservation. These recommendations were developed following extensive consultation with a broad community of stakeholders

Co-productive agility and four collaborative pathways to sustainability transformations