Innovating social and economic strategies for landscape scale conservation

A new project exploring social and economic strategies for landscape scale conservation will be funded by a WRDTP Collaborative Award.

This interdisciplinary project will focus on one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century, safeguarding the environment whilst maintaining and improving food security. In partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), Europe’s largest environmental NGO, the project will offer the opportunity for a student to undertake an ESRC funded PhD.

In environmental conservation, a key factor is how we use land, and in particular the degree to which we integrate or separate environmental protection from food production. Natural science studies show that separating high-yield agriculture for food production from natural habitat preservation, is less environmentally damaging than combining low-intensity agriculture and biodiversity conservation on the same land.

However, there is limited knowledge relating to the social, cultural or economic dynamics of these different approaches, and how they may impact rural communities, how farming communities might engage with these ideas or how these approaches can actually be implemented. In particular, setting aside large areas for conservation is challenging as it may unequally impact multiple landowners. The project will set out to develop an interdisciplinary research framework to address this knowledge gap.

The project is supervised by Dr David Williams, Lecturer in Sustainability and the Environment, Dr George Holmes, Associate Professor of Conservation and Society, Dr Joelene Hughes from the RSPB, and Prof David Edwards from the University of Sheffield.

Dr David Williams commented “We are really excited to be bringing together a whole range of disciplinary approaches to tackle these incredibly important questions. Working with the RSPB is a fantastic opportunity as it will really allow our findings, and the insights we develop to influence decision-making in the real world.”

More information about the WRDTP Collaborative Award is available here