Terrestrial Ecology and Carbon Cycling

The biosphere is essential to supplying the ecosystem services on which the planet relies, yet it is under threat from climate change and biodiversity loss. Our research projects in these areas focus on carbon and water cycling in forest and upland ecosystems, both nationally and internationally. We look at carbon sequestration of peat, and temperate and tropical trees, the importance of trees in the hydrological cycle and flood protection, the impacts of increasing temperatures on trees, and recovery and restoration of degraded ecosystems. We have strong collaborations with universities in the UK and abroad, as well as with public bodies such as the Environment Agency. The scale of our research goes from plant physiology through to ecosystem functioning.

Soil degradation is a critical and growing global problem. Increases in the global population have added to pressure on soil, while its natural capital faces continuing decline under climate pressures. The FABsoil research project focuses on repurposing waste and recycled materials either to produce entirely engineered soils or to supplement existing natural soils as a means of reducing the pressure on natural substrates. Our research on the biogeochemical cycling of nutrients in high value engineered soils has provided key insights to the challenges associated with its widespread deployment and opportunities for optimisation.