ePoster #INTECOL2022: post-industrial ecological recovery in the Tees estuary

Read my abstract accepted and presented as ePoster at INTECOL2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, August 28 – September 2 2022.

“Understanding the processes, mediator and times-scales involved during post-industrial ecological recovery will increasingly be on the agenda. While there is currently an expansion of industrialisation across the world, there will be the need to restore these ecosystems in the future and rewilding in this context can address both climate change and biodiversity concerns. However, there are only very few locations where post-industrial recovery can be studied, where the effect of industrialisation has already retreated, and ecosystems are rewilding. As a result, rewilding of post-industrial sites is understudied. This presentation introduces environmental monitoring in the Tees estuary, UK, a site of early, heavy industrialisation where habitats were transformed, and biota extirpated from the 1840s. From the 1980s, this estuary saw key indicators of ecosystems health such as seals and migratory fish returning. While high resolution census data is being collected for charismatic organisms (seal, salmon), lesser-known biota, including primary producers are not monitored, leading to a poor understanding of the existing food chain. Similarly, water quality is thoroughly monitored but for emerging pollution such as plastics and plastic additives. In the Tees estuary, a major factor for ecological recovery was the collaboration of stakeholders from industry, governmental agencies, and NGOs. Unfortunately, there is no rigorous and detailed account of how this dialogue mediated ecological recovery. In short, we introduce the monitoring of an internationally-significant case study, providing knowledge of best practice when rewilding coastal ecosystem in post-industrial conditions.”

Monitoring Rewilding INTECOL session 3.2 buddies up with the journal Wildlife Biology

The link between Wildlife Biology and the Monitoring Rewilding IntEcol2022 session creates an opportunity to draw synergies when promoting the work presented, and initiates collaborative work between Wildlife Biology, the session organisers, and the speakers.

The journal Wildlife Biology is a high-quality scientific forum directing concise and up-to-date information to scientists, administrators, wildlife managers and conservationists. Wildlife Biology is published by the Nordic Society Oikos (NSO).

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Monitoring abiotic, biotic and socio-ecological change during rewilding: opportunities and barriers

Session 3.2 about monitoring change during rewilding was accepted at INTECOL2022 in Geneva, Switzerland, August 28 – September 2 2022, on the basis of this abstract:

“One defining characteristic of rewilding is the establishment of natural processes to create self-sustaining ecosystems where conservation management is minimised. Some critical natural processes only occur when driven by ecosystem engineers, such as beavers creating wetlands, tapir dispersing tree seeds or giant tortoise grazing vegetation. Because many landscapes have experienced widespread ecosystem-engineer extinction, rewilding is typically accelerated when re-introducing large herbivores and carnivores. Monitoring change during rewilding is an opportunity to quantify societal benefits such as fighting climate change and biodiversity loss, but also requires overcoming barriers. For example, rewilding can occur in a variety of situations, at a range of temporal and spatial scales, and sometimes without a specific target. As a result, a wide range of benefits to society can be considered and many will not be relevant in all situations. Therefore, we pose the question: what and how to monitor during rewilding?

Rewilding progress can be measured within a given area using quantified proxies for decreasing human inputs and for increasing environmental integrity. A standardised and detailed framework will empower practitioners and build the evidence-base for future initiatives. A key abiotic change attracting focus is carbon sequestration along with the wider contribution to climate change mitigation. However, there remain knowledge gaps about the magnitude and directionality of change during rewilding. Promisingly, when accounting for the complex interaction between megafauna and permafrost, there may be a financial case via carbon markets to rewild vast areas of the arctic. Moreover, the need to assess the benefits following re-introduction of beavers as ecosystem engineers in Britain has led to the collection of abundant evidence based on multiple abiotic parameters such as hydrology, and aquatic biodiversity. Biodiversity and food web changes controlling top-down and bottom-up ecosystem processes can be difficult to document without resource-intensive biological surveys covering a wide range of organisms. eDNA and metabarcoding of megafaunal faecal samples are examples of existing tools useful in this context to synthesise biotic changes in time. In addition to abiotic and biotic aspects, practitioner’s perspectives can provide important insights and assess the human dimensions beyond ecological metrics.

A challenging undertaking such as monitoring change during rewilding ultimately also forces the ecological community to break new ground and push our field’s frontiers. This will be illustrated with a model of social-ecological monitoring designed for the diverse world of rewilding.”

England’s Nature Recovery Network gathers pace

Part of my involvement with the TVNP, I was invited to partake in Natural England’s first Nature Recovery Network (NRN) Delivery Partnership conference today.

Hundreds of diverse organisations and businesses set to meet at the Nature Recovery Network (NRN) Delivery Partnership conference…” click here to read more on this governmental news story.

It was a unique opportunity to network and further understand how my research about accelerating ecological recovery fits with the existing policies and governmental targets.

Monitoring Rewilding INTECOL session: Speakers line-up

The speaker’s line up is as follows:

Jens-Christian Svenning (keynote). Aarhus University. Monitoring ecological dynamics under trophic rewilding – A conceptual perspective

Sara King. Rewilding Britain. Rewilding Britain’s network and framework for monitoring rewilding: an update

Alan Puttock and Richard  Brazier. University of Exeter. Undertaking research to inform the re-introduction of Eurasian beaver to Great Britain

Alan Law and Nigel Willby. University of Stirling. Aquatic biodiversity response in beaver-created ponds and wetlands

Colin Guilfoyle, Heather Lally, Elvira de Eyto, Conor Graham. Setting a baseline for ecological restoration in Wild Nephin National Park

Laura Waistell and Ambroise Baker. Teesside University. Monitoring animal welfare during rewilding: a case study of beaver introduction in Britain

Josiane Segar, Henrique Pereira, Nestor  Fernandez. German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research. Assessing rewilding progress: bridging the gap between science and practice

Christopher Sandom. University of Sussex. Socio-ecological monitoring in the diverse world of rewilding.

Editorial Advisor for Plant People Planet, New Phytologist Foundation

This external committent at Plant People Planet will be an opportunity to bring together academic and botanical expertise and develop my editorial skills.

Plants, People, Planet aims to promote outstanding plant-based research in its broadest sense and to celebrate everything new, innovative and exciting in plant sciences that is relevant to society and people’s daily lives. For more details, see our Aims and Scope.

I am very fortunate to have joined the editorial board at large and will be serving as editorial advisor.