Wild ponies together in a field
Conservation and Ecology

Conservation and Ecology (Theme Lead: Angus I. Carpenter)

Ranging from local to national and international scales, the Conservation and Ecology theme engages in multi-disciplinary approaches, utilising methodologies from the natural and/or social sciences, to benefit conservation practices and outcomes. Theme members engage with research activities to provide outcomes that support both an evidence-based and adaptive approach to conservation decisions and management that, ultimately, aim to protect landscapes and biodiversity.  The Anthropocene is highlighting many pressures, such as unsustainable natural resource use, causes for biodiversity loss, and climate change, which can require novel, large-scale holistic approaches at one level to local scale, ecosystem reconstruction and reintroduction projects, such as the BOOM project, at the other.  The Conservation and Ecology theme membership is made up of highly skilled and experienced people, engaging with research activities across all these different levels to make our world a better place.  

 Pine marten at Shieldaig, Wester Ross, May 2022 by Mic Mayhew

South Cumbria Pine Marten Recovery Project

The Back On Our Map (BOOM) Project, administered by the University of Cumbria, completed a feasibility study in 2022 for a pine marten translocation to south Cumbria. The results indicate suitable habitat, cross sector support and low risk for a founder population.  

A Cumbria Pine Marten Working Group is progressing a translocation project under licence from NatureScot. The working group is supported by the Vincent Wildlife Trust and includes representatives from Forestry England, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Natural England, University of Cumbria, Graythwaite Estate and the University of Leeds. 

The aim of the group is to use translocation methods to expand the regional meta population and recover pine martens in the North West of England to improve their conservation status, support resilient forest ecosystems and  benefit local communities.  

The project will be implemented over 3 or 4 years with release and post-release monitoring phases using founder animals from donor sites in Scotland. 

Image credit: Mic Mayhew, May 2022. Photograph of pine marten at Shieldaig, Wester Ross, Scotland. 

BOOM: Transforming lives and landscapes in South Cumbria

Back On Our Map (BOOM)

BOOM is an ambitious four-year, £2 million project which aims to re-engage communities in south Cumbria with their natural environment, by restoring the landscape and reintroducing a suite of locally threatened or extinct native species.

Further information: Please visit the Back On Our Map project webpage or follow the project on Twitter @BoomCumbria or Facebook @BackOnOurMap. 

Funder: The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Partners: Led by the University of Cumbria in partnership with the Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and Morecambe Bay Partnership

Contact:  Jo Sayers, BOOM Project Manager; Professor Ian Convery, BOOM Academic Lead.

Wildflowers in Cumbria
Students visiting a Caledonian Forest.

Professional Forester Degree Apprenticeship Launched

In September 2022, the University of Cumbria (UoC), Ambleside Campus will see the arrival of the first cohort of degree apprentices. The Apprenticeship has been developed in partnership with the Forestry Commission (FC), who will be providing blended learning alongside staff from the National School of Forestry at UoC. This unique programme of study has been validated by the Institute of Chartered Foresters who also had extensive input in its creation, thus, providing a new sector developed and delivered programme Apprentices will have an intensive 3-year plan of study, which will be delivered at various locations, including Cannock Chase Forest Training Centre and our Carlisle Campus, to maximise their access to appropriate resources. Additional staff have been recruited, both at the UoC and the FC, to assist with the delivery of the programme and we will welcome around 30 apprentices at the beginning of September 2022 with the first cohort coming from the FC, the National Trust and the Woodland Trust. It is anticipated that this number will dramatically expand in Sepember 2023.      

Enquiries: Please email Mark Tomlinson

Image: Students visiting a Caledonian Forest. Image credit: Mark Tomlinson

Eco-I North West: supporting a clean and sustainable future for Cumbrian businesses 

The UK government has set targets to reduce carbon emissions and be net-zero by 2050 and Cumbria has the ambition to be net-zero by 2037.  

Eco-I North West at the University of Cumbria is part of a collaborative £14m research, development and knowledge exchange support project open to small and medium-businesses across England's North West.  

Uniting six of the region’s top universities, the programme has a distinctive model for interdisciplinary research, seeking to support carbon-reducing business innovations across Cumbria, Lancashire, Liverpool City Region, Cheshire & Warrington and Greater Manchester. 

Delivered through a variety of higher-level degrees, short-term interventions and long-term technical assistance, business projects are not led by specific technologies or areas of research, but instead are driven by business needs and a collaborative approach to problem solving. 

In a time of climate and biodiversity crisis, we hope to facilitate transition to a low carbon economy, business resilience, innovation and growth. 

Partners:  Lancaster University; Liverpool John Moores University; University of LiverpoolManchester Metropolitan University

Enquiries:  Any Cumbrian businesses with potential low carbon development projects should contact Mike Siddall or Laura Giles  

Image: Eco-I NW research project with Barker & Bland Ltd calculated massive carbon savings using on-site peat bunds and brash rather than imported materials such as coir logs to restore degraded peatlands. 

Image credit: Jack Brennand

Restoration of degraded peatland
C4RC ranger team (kneeling) with members of the wider community

Communities for Red Colobus

Communities for Red Colobus (C4RC) is a grant funded project which was developed by Dr Mic Mayhew with national and international partners in 2019 to implement the Red Colobus Action Plan 2021-26 priorities for Endangered Temminck’s red colobus (Piliocolobus badius temminckii, TRC) populations in The Gambia (Linder et al., 2021). TRC is one of 17 species of red colobus which are widely recognized as the most threatened group of primates on the African subcontinent and in need of urgent conservation action. C4RC is supporting local livelihoods and primate conservation through community education, capacity building, primate monitoring and research, patrols and enforcement, sustainable forestry practices and ecotourism initiatives. Activities are implemented by a team of 6 local rangers and a project manager in the Sambel Kunda area of the Central River Region and at Pirang Community Forest in the Western Region. 

FilmView a short film by Dr Mayhew about the C4RC project.  
Publications:   Mayhew et al2020;    Minhós et al, 2020

Partners:  Department of Parks and Wildlife Management (The Gambia), Department of Forestry (The Gambia), Partners For Red Colobus, Re:wild, colleagues from the Red Colobus Working Group of the IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group

Funders:  Tusk Trust, Global Challenges Research Fund, Re:wild, Margot Marsh Biodiversity Foundation, National Geographic, American Society of Primatologists  

Enquiries: Dr Mic Mayhew, michael.mayhew@cumbria.ac.uk

PhD researcher evaluating upland blanket peatland restoration

Jack Brennand, Doctoral Researcher

Jack’s PhD is part of the ERDF-funded ECO-I NW project, a low carbon innovation project that supports micro, small, and medium enterprises with research and development. Jack works closely with Barker & Bland Ltd to evaluate blanket peatland restoration in the Cumbrian uplands. 

Blanket peat structure and function will be assessed at degraded, restored, and near-natural sites employing 3D X-ray computed tomography (μCT). Additional bulk chemical and field greenhouse gas monitoring datasets will be integrated with μCT to understand the response of carbon dioxide and methane dynamics to blanket peatland restoration. Life-Cycle assessment analysis will also be conducted to quantify the carbon footprint of restoration approaches.

The goal of Jack’s research is to inform practice and policy. 

Thesis title: Evaluating upland blanket peatland restoration in Cumbria: structure, function, gaseous exchange, and carbon accounting

Supervisors: Dr Simon Carr (Lead Supervisor), Dr Jane Barker and Dr Helen Manns 

Funding: European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) via ECO-I NW with University of Cumbria

Partners: Barker & Bland Ltd. 

Project webpage: University of Cumbria - ECO-I NW Collaborative Peatland Restoration Project

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Jack standing by a trig point
Chat to a student on The Access Platform