This theme examines how ‘nature recovery’ is defined and governed at multiple scales across diverse landscapes, how its costs and benefits are distributed, and what lessons this holds for promoting equitable and restorative human-nature relations. The initial focus will be on case study landscapes in the UK and Ghana supporting a range of land uses, including conservation, recreation and the production of food and fibre for commercial and subsistence use.

One research strand examines the political ecology of nature recovery at multiple scales, with a strong emphasis on the design and implementation of participatory approaches to co-creating and managing nature recovery. This includes analysis of existing and proposed public and private policies, laws and standards for public participation in nature restoration and land use decision-making and how they intersect with grassroots and business recovery initiatives and local landowner engagements.

As part of this work, we will explore complementarities and tensions between scientific knowledge, including that generated by this project, and local knowledge of nature and place, and how different knowledge claims are used, accepted or rejected, and by whom. We will also examine how nature recovery efforts shape equality of access to land, nature and finance across diverse social groups.

Our second strand examines different cultural understandings of nature and how these configure the possibilities for nature recovery. We anticipate that successful strategies for nature recovery will require broad cultural support from landowners, farmers, citizens, and their representatives. But we know that these groups often disagree about what nature is and how it ought to be managed. We will investigate how culture and group identity shape different patterns of behaviour that impact nature recovery. We are especially interested what digital media tell us about popular understandings of nature and in the potential of digital technologies to enable new forms of environmental citizenship.


Theme outputs

    Caitlin Hafferty (2024). Harnessing the power of digital tools for community engagement in rewilding. LCNR website.

    Social science researchers from the Leverhulme Centre for Nature Recovery are collaborating with Highlands Rewilding to explore innovative digital technologies for enhancing community engagement in rewilding.

    To help bring multiple partners together across the landscapes, Highlands Rewilding and the LCNR have co-developed three digital community engagement platforms using software called Commonplace. The Commonplace team provides innovative digital solutions for creating positive change for thriving and resilient places, powered by data and collaboration between diverse groups.

    LCNR supported
    • Society

    Research at the interface of indigenous and western science in the Amazonian Peatlands

    Our researchers, Aoife Bennet and Jesus Aguirre-Gutierrez, along with partners in Peru are empirically applying an intercultural interdisciplinary mapping methodology “Non Oñamboan Joi” for assessing nature recovery potential in the Amazon.

    More about the project here


    LCNR supported
    • Awards
    • Society

    Huanyuan Zhang-Zheng, Stephen Adu-Bredu, Akwasi Duah-Gyamfi, Sam Moore, Shalom D. Addo-Danso, Lucy Amissah, Riccardo Valentini, Gloria Djagbletey, Kelvin Anim-Adjei, John Quansah, Bernice Sarpong, Kennedy Owusu-Afriyie, Agne Gvozdevaite, Minxue Tang, Maria C. Ruiz-Jaen, Forzia Ibrahim, Cécile A. J. Girardin, Sami Rifai, Cecilia A. L. Dahlsjö, Terhi Riutta, Xiongjie Deng, Yuheng Sun, Iain Colin Prentice, Imma Oliveras Menor & Yadvinder Malhi (2024). Contrasting carbon cycle along tropical forest aridity gradients in West Africa and Amazonia. Nature Communications.

    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.

    LCNR supported
    • Society
    • Scale
    • Remote sensing
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