SWEEP’s work set to boost blue and green economy with new £1.37M project in the South West

Work from two of SWEEP’s projects will play a significant role in a new £1.37 million project to promote green growth and investment in North Devon.
Led by the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere, this is the largest green economy award nationally from the Government’s Community Renewal Fund (CRF).

The project will enable a new programme of work to create great jobs for local people in northern Devon at the same time as addressing the climate and ecological emergency. There is a strong focus on skills development and job creation as well as plans to redirect private investment into the area. The North Devon programme has two linked elements – the Green Biosphere, focused on woodland, regenerative agriculture and agri-tech; and the Blue Biosphere, focused on offshore wind, aquaculture, marine biodiversity and ‘blue carbon’.

The SWEEP Marine team will be a key player in delivering the Blue Biosphere element of this project drawing on its recent success as part of Defra’s North Devon Marine Pioneer. Through this, they completed the UK’s first marine Natural Capital Asset Register to demonstrate the potential flows and location of habitats that support a healthy climate and multiple ecosystem service benefits.

This work also identified the tools needed to determine the quantity and quality of marine and coastal habitats that support carbon sequestration and has recently been published in the Journal of Applied Ecology – A Marine Natural Capital Asset and Risk Register – Towards securing the benefits from marine systems and linked ecosystem services.  This is a key milestone for the team as it provides the scientific underpin for much of their work.

In the new programme, the team will be leading the research input into three work strands:

  • Biosphere Blue Carbon – delivering innovative habitat projects such as seagrass, saltmarsh, oyster reefs and kelp forests;
  • 3D Biodiverse Ocean Farming – seeking to reinvent UK aquaculture through innovative models which use the full water column to create multiple food crops and a rich marine ecosystem;
  • “No-Take & Harvest” – exploring the potential for Lundy’s Marine Conservation Zone to be replicated around our shorelines.

We are excited to be able to continue our natural capital research with the North Devon UNESCO Biosphere to prime investment that will benefit both environment and economy,” Dr Sian Rees, Associate Professor of Social-Ecological Systems.

SWEEP’s Quantitative Habitat Mapping team’s tools will help deliver the Green Biosphere element of the project which is linked to the potential of woodland mitigating the effects of climate change.

The team have recently produced two sets of tools – the Habitat Classification tool and the Habitat Change Detection tool; and the Tree, Hedgerow and Woodland (THAW) Mapping Toolbox and THaW Change Detection tool. The latter will be used to support surveys on current woodland condition in North Devon to identify neglected and undermanaged woodlands that can be brought back into management, as well as priority areas for new woodland creation. As part of this process, the survey work will provide valuable ground truthing data for the THaW tool, strengthening its predictive capacity for carbon stocks and timber.

The SWEEP Marine team was an integral part of the successful delivery of the Marine Pioneer in North Devon – a key contributing factor to our success with this Community Renewal Fund award. The award is significant as it recognises that North Devon is well positioned to prepare for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund that forms part of the UK Government’s ambitious levelling up agenda to boost local and regional economies.

We are delighted that both SWEEP’s Marine team, and Quantitative Habitat Mapping team, will play a key role in this work, providing the  strong scientific underpin to enable quicker, more robust delivery against both the Blue and Green Biosphere elements of the project,” Andy Bell, Co-ordinator North Devon UNESCO Biosphere.

Want to know more about the SWEEP teams?

SWEEP Marine team –

SWEEP Quantitative Habitat mapping team

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