There is increasing awareness of the role of uplands in providing us all with crucial ecosystem services (ES), underpinning our livelihoods and wellbeing as well as ecosystem biodiversity that we value in its own right and also subsequent ecosystem functioning that we need to ensure is sustainable for us and future generations. Below we provide short (edited) summaries of related projects and activties.
Note: this is only a small selection which will be updated as there are more projects appearing. If you have any such projects you would like to see mentioned, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and provide a short paragraph (~450 words) and a nice picture.
Yorkshire Peat Partnership
The Yorkshire Peat Partnership (YPP; www.yppartnership.org.uk/), is a collaboration between the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Natural England, North York Moors National Park Authority, Yorkshire Water and the Environment Agency with support from Nidderdale AONB, Pennine Prospects, National Trust, Moorland Association, National Farmers Union, Moors for the Future and The Yorkshire Dales Rivers Trust. The aim of the partnership is to restore and conserve upland peat resources in order to ensure the long-term future of these unique and valuable habitats. Previous funding allowed work on 20 sites across the Yorkshire region at a spend of approximately £5.5 million (2012). To date, YPP has initiated or restored works on over 5000 ha of peat, blocked >500 km of grips and >50 km of gullies, additionally, has revegetated many areas of bare peat.
The Yorkshire Peat Partnership aims to substantially increase the amount of peatland restoration activity by meeting the following objectives by 2013 (first tranche):
- To survey an estimated 35,000 ha of peatland.
- To block approximately 3,000 km of drainage grips.
- To block an estimated 900 km of gullies.
- To revegetate about 190 ha of exposed bare peat.
- To establish long-term research and monitoring to assess the benefit of peatland restoration to a range of ecosystem services.
- To produce an estimate of carbon storage and sequestration potential in the Yorkshire upland region.
- To use and promote best practice in all applied restoration techniques.
- To raise awareness and promote the multitude of benefits that peatland restoration can provide to a wider audience.
- To support high quality monitoring and research.
Our landscapes need to be managed appropriately to ensure the sustainable delivery of ecosystem servcies into the future, but we do not truly understand the linkages between the biodiversity within those landscapes and the flows of services from them. Until we have a better grasp of these linkages, those responsible for managing our landscapes will be doing so under great uncertainty.
Biodiversity & Ecosystem Service Sustainability (NERC BESS) was a six-year (2011-2017) NERC research programme, designed to reduce that uncertainty. It intended to answer fundamental questions about the functional role of biodiversity in key ecosystem processes and the delivery of ecosystem processes at the landscape scale and how these are likely to change in an uncertain future. By providing a much improved evidence base, those responsible for how landscapes are used and developed should be in much better position to make decisions about the inevitable trade-offs that are required to ensure sustainable futures.
In order to address these research challenges, the BESS programme endeavoured to address the following scientific goals by undertaking replicated research across a small number of UK landscape study areas:
- To understand the functional role of biodiversity in UK ecosystems across a range of ecosystem goods and services, environmental gradients and scales typical of real landscapes.
- To identify critical levels of biodiversity required to deliver a range of ecosystem services that meet societal needs, and the land and resource use associated with these biodiversity levels.
- To develop impact assessment tools to explore the implications of land and resource use change on biodiversity and a range of ecosystem services in a changing environment.
UKPopNet was a NERC funded network of institutions founded by the universities of Aberdeen, East Anglia, Leeds, Sheffield and York, together with NERC's Centre for Ecology & Hydrology. It encompassed scientists, policy makers and practitioners tackling major environmental problems.
UKPopNet aimed to link population biology to ecosystem science and economics, and funded or participated in eight interdisciplinary and inter-institutional projects, a series of working groups, and workshops.
The UK Population Biology Network (UKPopNet) aimed to help answer two questions of pressing importance to science and society:
- How will changes in biodiversity affect the sustainability of ecosystems, landscapes, and livelihoods?
- What strategies should we employ to mitigate adverse effects?
An important peatland aspect was the UKPopNet work at Lake Vyrnwy in Wales. As part of this work, Heinemeyer obtained a research grant (2009 - 2010) to study C-fluxes on heather-dominated blanket bog using chambers and eddy covariance flux towers (in collaboration with Durham University - Fred Worrall & Bob Baxter).
The work also assessed local environmental conditions in relation to vegetation and topography (e.g. soil surface temperatures).
Finally, the project also initiated the development of the MILLENNIA peatland model (see: Heinemeyer et al., 2010; Clark et al. 2010; Carroll et al., 2015).