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

Unlocking the power of engagement for nature recovery and nature-based solutions

The ‘Unlocking the power of engagement for nature recovery and nature-based solutions’ webinar took place on 20th February 2024 and was aimed at anyone working in the on-the-ground delivery, design and/or strategy of a broad range of nature recovery and nature-based solutions projects which aim to benefit both people and nature. This includes conservation, restoration, rewilding, urban greening, community gardening, sustainable forestry, regenerative agriculture, and more.

It is aimed at practitioners working on any project which seeks to engage a diversity of stakeholders and relevant parties at different scales including local communities, members of the public, farmers and land managers, non-governmental organisations, charities, businesses, local authorities, and government bodies.

The guide can be viewed here

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.

From Worms to Flowers

Dive into the fascinating world of nature with ‘From Worms to Flowers,’ an educational pack crafted for schools and beyond.

This engaging resource, produced by the Cultural Programme in partnership with The Story Museum, Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery and Oxford Botanic Garden and Arboretum, forms a part of the ‘Everything is Connected’ season. This initiative unites academics, authors, and artists in a joint effort to envisage a future where all elements of nature are interlinked. The video, featuring insights from experts at the University of Oxford, encourages viewers to explore and appreciate the natural world around them. It demonstrates how every component, from minuscule worms to the most vibrant flowers, contributes significantly to our ecosystem. Designed to educate and inspire, this video is a compelling tool for schools, providing educators and students alike with a deeper understanding of environmental interconnectivity. It also extends its reach beyond the classroom, inviting everyone to partake in this enlightening journey and to contribute to a more sustainable and interconnected future. ‘From Worms to Flowers’ is not just an educational experience; it’s a call to view the world as a harmonious and interconnected system, where each part plays a crucial role in the grand tapestry of life.

A short film has been produced in conjunction with this pack and can be watched here: From Worms to Flowers

A Recipe for Engagement in Nature-based Solutions and Nature Recovery

Engagement is a cornerstone for Nature Recovery (NR) and Nature-based Solutions (NbS), offering a path to delivering multiple, integrated benefits for people, nature and climate. It applies to a range of initiatives including conservation, restoration, rewilding, urban greening, community gardening, sustainable forestry and agriculture. Engagement can involve approaches like consultation, collaboration, partnership working, and co-design: it is ultimately about how people can work together to deliver for nature. The power of engagement lies in its ability to foster more inclusive decisionmaking, build trust and transparency, and empower communities while improving environmental outcomes and enhancing democratic participation.

The first edition of this guidance was funded by the Agile Initiative. The Agile Initiative is supported by the Natural Environment Research Council as part of the Changing the Environment Programme – NERC grant reference number NE/W004976/1

The role of natural capital in the green economy: LCNR response

The House of Commons’ Environmental Audit Committee launched an inquiry, ‘The role of natural capital in the green economy’, in August 2023.  The Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery submitted a response, written by Dr Sophus zu Ermgassen.

Our submission proposed:

  • An accelerated timetable to agree and implement independent evaluation systems (particularly on-site gains for BNG) to secure high-quality nature recovery, and to prevent problems arising from reliance on self-reported assessments alone,
  • Government support for local authorities to pursue developers responsible for non-compliance. This would include provision long-term support for monitoring and enforcing planning conditions associated with nature recovery,
  • For BNG, revision of the enforcement threshold from the currently unrealistically-high ‘serious harm to a local public amenity’ to a condition that is more closely aligned with nature recovery objectives; and
  • Adoption of the guidance provided in the industry’s best practice guide and best practice Standards (e.g. British Standard 8683: 2021) a condition of planning consent for developments to assist with monitoring and to embed good practice.
Parish Nature Recovery Survey Report

Executive summary

Oxfordshire Treescape Project have been delivering Treescape Opportunity Reports to parish groups since October 2021. Since then the range of resources offered and our ways of working have developed. In April 2023 a survey was sent to the 76 parish groups that had viewed our Opportunity Maps (the majority as pdf Reports, but some in addition or solely as interactive maps on the Land App), the aim of which was to understand what resources for nature recovery are already at parish councils’ disposal; how useful different resources provided by OTP have been; what would most help parishes move forward with nature recovery planning and activities.

Responses were received from representatives of 18 parish groups. Of these, 13 had or were considering a Neighbourhood Plan (NP) within their parish. Nine of these 13 thought it likely or very likely that their NP would support nature recovery in the parish, highlighting that NPs could be a key tool for parishes in nature recovery.

The key theme to emerge was the importance of human connection: the difficulty of engaging with landowners came through strongly, as did the value of volunteers, connections with other groups such as neighbouring parishes and discussions with the Oxfordshire Treescape Project team. Respondents who had good relationships with local landowners described them as among their greatest strengths, but the majority wanted better guidance on how to approach them. Volunteers are highly valued, but respondents felt that volunteers lacked time.

The most used and influential OTP resources were discussions with the team, introductions to relevant people or organisations and the maps, in Opportunity Reports and in the Land App. The maps within the Opportunity Reports were the most used and most useful sections, being used to plan nature recovery and share ideas with parish councils. Some respondents felt that the maps could be improved in terms of accuracy and level of detail.

DLUHC Science Seminar Series Sheds Light on how to build Trust and Inclusion for Thriving Communities

In an enlightening seminar titled “How to build standards of trust, accountability, and inclusion for sustainable places,” Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery and Agile Initiative researchers Dr. Caitlin Hafferty and Dr. Mark Hirons shared their insights with the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Community (DLUHC). The seminar, part of the DLUHC 2023 Science Seminar Series, aimed to bridge the gap between academic research and real-world application in the realm of urban planning and regeneration, housing, sustainable communities, and the Levelling Up agenda.

The DLUHC Science Seminar Series, led by the Chief Scientific Advisor’s Office, seeks to incorporate scientific evidence into DLUHC’s areas of research interest and priorities. Caitlin and Mark’s presentation, which took place on the 21st July 2023, showcased the best available social science evidence on how participatory processes can lead to better quality decisions, contributing to more sustainable and equitable outcomes in planning and development.

Key takeaways from the seminar included:

  1. The importance of engagement: Caitlin and Mark emphasized the significance of engagement in building trust, inclusion, and integrity in decision-making processes. They presented evidence that shed light on the necessity of involving stakeholders and the general public in shaping decisions about places and communities.
  2. Digital tools for engagement: The researchers discussed the use of digital tools in the engagement process, offering insights into both technical and ethical considerations related to their application. Digital tools can enhance the accessibility and effectiveness of public involvement in planning and decision-making, but there are also ethical risks (like lack of digital literacy and infrastructure) which need mitigating.
  3. Embedding a culture of engagement: The presentation touched on the importance of creating a culture of engagement within DLUHC. Building capacity and capability to deliver best practice in engagement processes is key to ensuring that decisions align with sustainability and community needs.

More infomation about the presentation here

The potential contribution of revenue from Biodiversity Net Gain offsets towards nature recovery ambitions in Oxfordshire

There is a major funding gap for delivering the UK’s nature recovery ambitions, including meeting the national and international ‘30×30’ target (30% of land protected and managed for nature by 2030). This work aimed to investigate the potential revenue that could be generated over the next ten years through purchase of Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) offsets by developers in Oxfordshire, and the extent to which this could contribute to the estimated costs of nature recovery.

We compare potential BNG revenue with the costs of creating sufficient areas of semi-natural habitats in strategic locations (e.g. within Oxfordshire’s Nature Recovery Network) to meet the 30×30 target, and maintaining those habitats for 30 years. These costs are estimated at £800 million, but this excludes the costs of protecting and monitoring the sites, and any additional costs for organisations that wish to purchase land or compensate landowners for lost opportunity costs. Also, these are not the full costs of nature recovery in its broadest sense, as they do not take account of the cost of restoring species populations to sustainable levels. In particular, this analysis does not consider the cost of recovering any species and habitats lost as a result of the development that gives rise to the BNG revenue, i.e. it is assumed that the compensatory habitats created through BNG will successfully replace those lost and will prevent any loss of associated species. The estimates are simply intended to help organisations involved in nature recovery to understand the potential size of the BNG market, to inform future investment plans.