Contrasting carbon cycle along tropical forest aridity gradients in West Africa and Amazonia

Here we present a detailed field assessment of the carbon budget of multiple forest sites in Africa, by monitoring 14 one-hectare plots along an aridity gradient in Ghana, West Africa. When compared with an equivalent aridity gradient in Amazonia, the studied West African forests generally had higher productivity and lower carbon use efficiency (CUE). The West African aridity gradient consistently shows the highest NPP, CUE, GPP, and autotrophic respiration at a medium-aridity site, Bobiri. Notably, NPP and GPP of the site are the highest yet reported anywhere for intact forests. Widely used data products substantially underestimate productivity when compared to biometric measurements in Amazonia and Africa. Our analysis suggests that the high productivity of the African forests is linked to their large GPP allocation to canopy and semi-deciduous characteristics.

Rewilding in the British policy landscape. A qualitative analysis of policy documents related to rewilding

This paper situates rewilding in national policy contexts in England, Scotland and Wales to assess prospects for future rewilding implementation.

Mission-Oriented Public Policy for Nature Recovery

This paper outlines the findings of an expert workshop exploring how policies for delivering nature recovery relate to the policy toolkit applied in mission-oriented strategy, and demonstrate how missions-thinking can be applied to nature recovery in England.

 

What is Biodiversity Net Gain?

On February 12th, England’s ambitious new environmental policy, Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) went live. Underpinned by the Environment Act, this policy lays out the mandatory requirement for new developments to provide a 10% net gain in biodiversity, maintained for at least 30 years. For now, this applies to almost all developments, and will become mandatory for small sites from April 2024, and for Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects (NSIPs) from November 2025.

Natalie Duffus and Sophus zu Ermgassen explain what providing a ‘biodiversity net gain’ means.

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

Abstract

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.

The Nature Positive Journey for Business: A research agenda to enable private sector contributions to the global biodiversity framework.

As a group of researchers and consultants working at the interface between business and biodiversity, we propose a conceptual model through which private sector contributions to a Nature Positive future could be realised and use it to identify priority research questions.

 

Valuing the functionality of tropical ecosystems beyond carbon

Land-based carbon sequestration projects, such as tree planting, are a prominent strategy to offset carbon emissions. However, we risk reducing natural ecosystems to one metric – carbon. Emphasis on restoring ecosystems to balance ecosystem services, biodiversity conservation, and carbon sequestration is a more appropriate strategy to protect their functioning.

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.

Transforming land use governance: Global targets without equity miss the mark
Co-productive agility and four collaborative pathways to sustainability transformations