Natural England has an active research programme which includes the long term monitoring of the impacts of climate change on species and habitats, evaluating adaptation responses and developing new methodologies to measure the vulnerability of the natural environment to the impacts of climate change.
The main focus of our evidence programme is to understand the impacts of climate change and develop adaptation measures. We are also investigating the role the natural environment can play in both reducing climate change (for example by taking up and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere) and helping society to adapt to its consequences (for example by providing natural flood defences). Natural England has a number of strong collaborative partnerships with a range of other research organisations and environmental bodies to develop the evidence base on climate change and its implications for the natural environment. Our priorities include:
understanding the factors which promote resilience to climate change;
evaluating the effectiveness of adaptation measures;
long term monitoring;
interpretation of climate change impacts.
We have also developed the evidence base on carbon sequestration and storage by semi-natural habitats, including peatlands.
For further information on climate change and Natural England's involvement in this work see:
The evidence projects related to this work area can be seen below. For a list of the evidence generated by our evidence programme since 2009 see Evidence generated: ecosystem approach.
|RP0322||Managing peatlands as carbon stores (MAPCARS) (PhD)||This project seeks to increase certainty about the impact of land management on the overall greenhouse gas (GHG) balance of peatlands in particular (1) whether reduced losses (and even gains) of carbon by the restored peatland may be counteracted by increased methane emissions and (2) the extent to which fluvial carbon loss from peatlands contributes ultimately to GHG emissions. NERC CASE PhD student: Gemma Dooling, Leeds University.|
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £4,500.00
|RP0349||Carbon storage by habitats||This project aims to summarise the best available evidence on carbon storage in contrasting land uses / habitats and to carry out targeted research to fill key evidence gaps (particularly for peatlands and coastal habitats). It has three main components: 1) An overview of carbon storage and greenhouse gas fluxes by the full range of English habitats. 2) An investigation of carbon storage and fluxes in coastal and marine habitats in a specific English context. 3) Development of peatland greenhouse gas monitoring, through both the development of a new network and support for ongoing measurements.
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £48,000.00
|RP0364||National Character Area climate change vulnerability assessment||Project to assess the vulnerability of the natural environment to climate change and identify appropriate adaptation responses. A method has been developed to assess the vulnerability of England's landscapes to climate change, and this is being a trialled in a number of pilot National Character Areas across England. These areas are: (1) South East Northumberland Coastal Plain (2) Lancashire & Amounderness Plain (3) Morecambe Bay Limestones (4) Solway Basin (5) Humberhead Levels (6) Sherwood (7) London (8) South Downs (9).
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £25,000.00
|RP0384||Is eroded peat a source of atmospheric CO2? (PhD)||To quantify and understand the fate of particulate organic carbon (POC) in streams draining upland peatlands, in particular the transformation to CO2 that is released to the atmosphere. Specifically the project will: * Measure the loss of POC and dissolved organic carbon (DOC) from peat-covered catchments by mass balance. * Understand the transformation of POC into DOC and CO2. * Quantify competing processes for POC and DOC loss including adsorption and flocculation. * Develop methods for the inclusion of POC transformation and loss to the atmosphere into present carbon models. PhD student: Catherine Moody, Durham University.|
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £3,000.00
|RP0437||Mapping Peat Depth and Carbon Storage in England||Peat soils are our most important land store of organic carbon. Natural England estimated peat carbon (C) storage in the 2010 NE257 report, but this was based on few, and old, data. This project, run under an MoA with the North Pennines AONB Partnership's Peatscapes initiative, will: i) collate and analyse all available peat depth/C data; ii) develop a survey methodology to assess peat depth/C; iii) conduct some new targeted peat surveys; iv) coordinate with NPAs, NGOs etc. on new surveys; v) produce a improved and easily updateable peat depth/C storage map for England; and vi) supply a report, database & licence-free map.
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £31,000.00
|RP0758||Adaptation to climate change by nature conservation managers||In this project I am conducting a survey of how the managers of nature conservation sites (such as National Nature Reserves) are approaching the issue of adapting to climate change. The survey covers topics such as climate impacts of concern, conservation goals, management actions being undertaken, barriers to action, and sources of information used. The first stage of the project, covering sites in East Anglia, is almost complete; a second stage in spring and summer 2012 will focus on northwest England.
|RP0759||Ecological networks and climate change refugia||This project will examine ecosystem restoration work that could be done to establish resilient ecological networks that address climate change. There will be several study areas across England. Issues to be considered include: - species habitat requirements and the relative importance of core sites and connectivity of the surrounding 'matrix' - climate vulnerability and possible refugia - practical considerations for implementation based on both ecological evidence and local land use factors, Guidelines will then be developed that could be applied to other areas. This is part of Natural England's wider 'networks' programme (RP0756)
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £50,000.00
|RP0888||East Dartmoor NNR: Breeding birds of western upland oakwoods response to climate change||The ongoing research examines aspects of declining populations of migrant breeding birds, with specific focus on pied flycatcher and wood warbler of Dartmoor oakwoods. Key elements include: 1) For the first time in the UK, fitting of geolocaters to 20 male pied flycatchers to be recovered in 2013. This is a joint project between the NE, BTO, Exeter University, a European research group and Biotrack. 2) Co-ordination of SW upland oak wood nest box schemes and records, and correlation with climatic data. 3) Behavioural and food supply studies of wood warbler at East Dartmoor NNR
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £2,000.00
|RP0916||National Biodiversity Climate Change Vulnerability Model||We have developed a national biodiversity climate change vulnerability model to undertake analysis of current datasets to provide an assessment of the relative vulnerability of habitats to climate change. Datasets have been generalised to 200m x 200m grid square providing the framework for analysis. The GIS grid approach provides us with the flexibility to analyse the data contributing to four stages of the model that assess sensitivity, adaptive capacity, asset value and overall vulnerability. Using the results of the vulnerability assessment we can develop tools and products to inform decisions on local priorities and targeting resources.
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £15,000.00
|RP0291||Monitoring of greenhouse gases following changes in land management in the North Pennines||To assess whether blocking moorland drainage channels reduces the production of greenhouses gases, and an indication of the level of any effect. Moorland drainage channels on Cronkley Fell in the North Pennines have been monitored for greenhouse gas release. The channels were then blocked and greenhouse gas emissions continue to be monitored.
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £90,000.00
|RP0316||Development of a long-term monitoring network||The objectives of the project are to: 1. Develop a long-term monitoring network to meet Natural England's evidence needs on the effects of climate change, air pollution and land management on the natural environment. 2. Establish a network of at least 40 core monitoring sites by the end of 2014. 3. Ensure that data from other existing and proposed long-term monitoring activities are managed and used in order to maximise their benefit as evidence on cause and effect of environmental change. 4. Ensure that maximum benefit and efficiency is gained from complementary activities of other agencies and bodies.
Natural England's financial contribution to this project is currently estimated to be: £142,000.00