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Scientists link up to investigate biodiversity

01.04.2004


Ecologists and environmental scientists received £1.8 million today to investigate the sustainability of ecosystems, landscapes and livelihoods and how climate change will affect biodiversity in Britain.



The new network links population biology to ecosystem science and economics and is a joint venture between the Natural Environment Research Council (£1.5m) and English Nature (£300K).

It will carry out seven major projects each year and provide a network for scientists, policy-makers and practitioners to solve major environmental problems.


Programme Director, Professor Alastair Fitter says: ’Our environment is undergoing major change. When you set aside a protected area in a fragmented landscape such as Britain, is that sufficient to protect the genetic diversity of its flora and fauna or are they doomed to extinction in the longer term anyway? We expect to find answers to questions like this.’

The five universities - Aberdeen, East Anglia, Leeds, Sheffield and York - will be joined by the Natural Environment Research Council’s Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and the whole network will be called UKPopNet.

The group will link population biologists with those tackling socio-economic questions. An important issue is conflict resolution, for example the need to preserve biodiversity set against other pressures on the land and the environment.

Professor Fitter, from the biology department at the University of York, is delighted that English Nature is also supporting the programme.

’It is hugely important to us that they are a partner. They will be one of the end users of our work so this is a valuable sign that what we are doing is useful and important.’

Head of Science at English Nature, Dr Kevin Charman says: ’The major challenge facing nature conservation, both on the land and in the sea, is how wildlife populations, communities and habitats will respond to future environmental changes."

’English Nature is extremely excited by the prospect of working with the Natural Environment Research Council and addressing some of these long-term issues. The launch of UKPopNet represents a new and unique partnership bringing together a practitioner and some of the top researchers in the country in order to understand some of the processes underlying population biology.’

Marion O’Sullivan | NERC
Further information:
http://www.ukpopnet.org/
http://www.nerc.ac.uk

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