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£14 million available for biodiversity research

Around 20 million euros, almost £14 million, of research money is up for grabs in a new partnership programme that tackles the alarming decline of plant and animal species on our planet.

The new funding comes from BiodivERsA, a network of 19 public research funding bodies from 14 European countries. The UK partners are the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), who together are contributing 4 million euros, around £2.7 million, for this first funding call.

BiodivERsA provides the means for bringing together some of the best research minds across Europe and aims to address present and future challenges in biodiversity, linking scientific advancement to policy and practice. There is a specific requirement for researchers making a bid for the money being made available – to have a chance of success both the science and the policy aspects must be addressed.

Joan Ruddock, Minister for Climate Change and Biodiversity, said: “This new research initiative will help us answer important questions such as how losses of biodiversity affect our well-being and what we can do to conserve biodiversity in the face of climate change. I am very pleased that Defra is working with European partners in this exciting international research programme”.

NERC’s new strategy pinpoints biodiversity as one of its priority research themes for the coming years. The research council has appointed Professor Lloyd Peck, a leading authority on the biodiversity of natural environments, to champion the development of this important theme.

Professor Peck said: “It’s important that we improve our knowledge of the ways that humans and climate change affect biodiversity, on land, in fresh-waters and in the sea. We must learn more about how life can respond to change and how we can sustain it in the long-term. Climate change affects the way in which the environment functions and we need to know what we can do to minimise the negative effects on ecosystems.”

“We also have to get better at putting a value on ecosystems, for example on the way that they produce healthy soils for agriculture, or how near-shore ecosystems purify the effluent we put into them. Finally we need to make sure that our findings are as useful to governments and policymakers as we can, and that any clear improvements are implemented as soon as possible. This new money will provide a good start for the whole process.”

Marion O'Sullivan | alfa
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