How we’re tackling the biodiversity crisis

Restoration work is being carried out across the Stonehenge landscape

We’re working with partners to research ecosystems at 100 woodland and meadow sites. The findings will help inform our work to support wildlife habitats damaged by climate change, drought and other environmental threats.

Research sites include the Knepp Estate in West Sussex, an area in the South Downs and the Stonehenge landscape.

The research consortium is being led by Cranfield University, the National Trust, Stirling University, the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and Forest Research. It has secured a £2m grant from the Natural Environment Research Council to explore the best ways to reverse habitat loss and degradation caused by agriculture, climate change, development and pollution.

We're investigating sites that have already undergone restoration to understand what impact different measures have had on the resilience of woodland and grassland ecosystems. If we look at how ecosystems function in terms of carbon capture, nutrient cycling and pollination we can better identify what we need to do next for nature’s recovery. 

" With the increasing number of challenges our landscapes are facing we need to look forward to what will create the robust, functional and resilient ecosystems of the future."
- Rosie Hails, Director of Science and Nature, National Trust

The research will help conservationists and those involved in restoration ensure interventions such as tree planting or re-introducing species are made to maximum benefit. It will help us with our own conservation goals of creating 25,000 hectares of priority habitats by 2025 and the establishment of 20 million trees to expand or to create new woodlands over the next decade. 

Research is underway at more than 100 sites, which are currently in the process of being restored. These include the South Downs, Knepp Estate in West Sussex and Stonehenge. Teams of scientists are exploring each of the different sites and the factors that control their development and stability.  

Professor Jim Harris of Cranfield University, the Lead Principal Investigator for the project, said: 'We are trying to understand how the nuts, bolts and cogs of the ecosystems that we are interested in reassemble and function, and whether this can be done quickly – or whether we need a lot of patience with Mother Nature – who you simply cannot fool.'