Nature Unlocked

The Landscape Ecology Programme at Wakehurst: researching the value of UK biodiversity to inform nature-based solutions to critical challenges such as climate change and food security.

Two researchers in the woodland at Wakehurst surrounded by bluebells, working with cameras and a computer

The UK is facing three major environmental threats: biodiversity loss, climate change and land use change.

Without collective action, the combination of these three forces will result in catastrophic consequences for nature, the economy, and our way of life. 

But how can we ensure that the actions we take are not only rapid and large-scale, but also effective and long-term? 

Our new science research project

In 2021, we launched the Landscape Ecology Programme.

This major research project sees Kew scientists use Wakehurst’s rich landscape as a ‘living laboratory’ to collect high quality scientific evidence on the value of UK biodiversity – the diversity of all living things (plants, fungi and animals).  

With this strong scientific data, our scientists can inform and influence the land management policies and practices created by key decision makers.

In turn, this offers government bodies, businesses, communities and landowners effective nature-based solutions to environmental and social challenges.  

Science in action 

At Wakehurst, our scientists will work across four research pillars, all exploring the services and benefits biodiversity provides:  

1. Carbon

We know that trees absorb carbon, but we’re exploring how a combination of different plants and fungi could help store even more carbon than a collection of trees, to combat climate change.  

Kew scientist kneeling down in a grassy field with a drone
Kew scientist at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

2. Pollinators

Our scientists are investigating how biodiverse environments maximise the benefits of wasps, hoverflies, and bees.

Did you know? We have pollinators to thank for every third mouthful we eat.

Two researchers kneeling down in a field inspecting plants and pollinators
Landscape Ecology Programme researchers at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

3. Water

We are all dependent on water, but we are increasingly seeing the damaging impact of flooding on our communities.

Our scientists are turning to nature to see how trees could help prevent floods. 

Researcher kneeling down in a field of bluebells inspecting a white box
Landscape ecology programme researcher at Wakehurst, Jim Holden © RBG Kew

4. Nature Connectedness

At Kew, we love to get outside and enjoy nature, but now we’re collecting scientific data on what it is about being in the natural world, especially rich biodiverse habitats, that improves our wellbeing. 

Wakehurst landscape
Wakehurst landscape © RBG Kew
Researcher and child with a net catching bees

Support our research

Our scientists need your help to continue their research into solving some of the most pressing issues facing our planet.

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