Valuing Nature Placements Round 2 - April to July 2017

The Valuing Nature Programme is funding eight placements between April and July 2017 which are aligned to the Programme's goal of building an interdisciplinary research community, capable of working across the natural, biological and social sciences and arts and humanities, and of linking researchers to businesses, policymakers and practitioners.  

This scheme was first run in 2016 and was described by Placement Holders as a transformative experience.  A final report, along with summaries and videos from the 12 Placements funded in 2016 are available here.

The placements enable researchers to work in a new disciplinary, institutional or applied setting, and to produce outputs which can be shared with the Valuing Nature community. 

The successful applicants for 2017 are listed below.

Colm Bowe

Placement title - Developing understanding and strategies for business to engage and inform UK Food and Farming policy to ensure that Natural Capital is an integral part.

Home - Liverpool John Moores University

Host - University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

Thomas Davies

Placement title - Addressing the influence of human values on selective investment in conservation priorities.

Home - University of Exeter

Host - University of Exeter - Centre for Geography, Environment & Society

Sofia Franco

Placement title - Identifying evidence needs for modelling and valuing aquaculture potential in marine plan areas.

Home - Newcastle University

Host - Marine Management Organisation

Deborah Harvey

Placement title - Enhancing wellbeing: Can engaging with nature in the school grounds improve children’s attention and mood?

Home - Royal Holloway, University of London

Host - Royal Holloway, University of London, Department of Psychology

Graziella Iossa

Placement title - Applying a natural capital approach to link environmental and health policy agendas on antimicrobial resistance.

Home - University of Lincoln - School of Life Sciences

Host - University of York - Health & population Ecosystems

Stephen McConnachie

Placement title - Social and Cultural Values of Urban Nature in Walworth, South London.

Home - University College London - Institute for Global Prosperity

Host - Social Life

Jonathan Reeves

Placement title - Using the WWT London Wetland Centre (LWC) to develop skills in assessing the individual and societal health and wellbeing benefits of urban wetlands.

Home - Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust

Host - Imperial College London - Faculty of Natural Sciences

Geoff Whitman

Placement title - Developing indicators of success for nature-based public health interventions.

Home - London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine

Host - Natural England

Watch Placement Summary Video;


Business Impact School Nov 2017 - Edinburgh

The third Valuing Nature Business Impact School (BIS3) will be held in Edinburgh from Wednesday 29 November to Saturday 2 December 2017.

The Valuing Nature Programme will run the BIS3 to provide early career researchers with an opportunity to gain insight into producing research with business impact.

NERC has provided funding to offer fully-funded places (school, travel, accommodation, meals, field trip) for around 25 early stage researchers for BIS3. 

Programme now available.

Deadline extended to midday 11 October due to technical problems with the application form.

Moreover, BIS3 offers two outstanding add-ons:

  • All BIS3 participants will attend the Natural Capital Coalition Day of Collaboration in Edinburgh on Wednesday 29 November, with accommodation and subsistence costs covered by BIS3. These places have already been reserved with NCC, you do not need to make a separate reservation.
  • The World Forum on Natural Capital convenes in Edinburgh on Monday 27 to Tuesday 28 November. BIS3 Applicants are encouraged to apply separately for a Scholarship to attend the WFNC (apply here, deadline Friday 29 September). Successful BIS3 applicants who are also successful in receiving a WFNC Scholarship will have the balance of their WFNC registration costs as well as travel and accommodation for the extra nights covered by BIS3 funding.

BIS1 was held in March 2016 and BIS2 in March 2017. The programmes, reports and presentations are available here.

The importance of the impact agenda

The impact agenda is critical to contemporary research careers and an ability to design research with impact is vital for researchers to secure research funding. Research proposals to the UK Research Councils and the EU Horizon 2020 funding programme are required to address impact, and this is closely examined during the evaluation processes. Impact is also a key consideration in UK higher education funding to universities, and is assessed based on submissions including Impact Case Studies. An ability to deliver impact is therefore a key skill that universities and other research bodies look for when appointing and retaining researchers. The funder of the School, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) recognises the importance of demonstrating the impact of environmental science in terms of delivering economic and social benefit as a key indicator of success of delivery of the NERC strategy.

Valuing Nature and business impact

The Valuing Nature agenda is increasingly of interest to businesses. A failure to properly value nature can present significant risks to businesses, while valuing nature throughout a business and its value chain can present significant opportunities to enhance return on investment and reputation.

VNP is pursuing an active business engagement programme, with advice from a high level Business Interest Group (BIG). BIG outputs include a paper on Pathways to Impact with Business in relation to the VNP Health and Wellbeing Call.

Aim and programme

This NERC-funded VNP Business Impact School aims to develop a Valuing Nature research community with a broader understanding of how research on valuing nature can be translated in to private sector decision-making and innovation. Speakers will be drawn from the VNP Business Interest Group and other relevant businesses and business initiatives at the forefront of innovation related to valuing nature. Speakers at the 2016 and 2017 Schools included Nestle, Intelligent Health, Interserve, National Grid, Nestle, Satellite Communications Catapult, United Utilities, WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, Aldersgate Group, Willis Towers Watson, Greater London Authority, Willmott Dixon, Wessex Water, AECOM and representatives from Aldersgate Group, Natural Capital Coalition as well as the Chair of the VNP Business Interest Group and the PI and Business Champion of the VN Programme Coordination Team.

The BIS3 programme will include similar speakers and will offer plenty of opportunity to interact with speakers. There will also be a ‘hands-on’ session run by eftec and Natural England on understanding the business need for evidence and communicating with business.

Dates and venues

  • The WFNC (for those securing WFNC Scholarships) is on Monday 27 and Tuesday 28 November.
  • The Natural Capital Coalition Day of Collaboration is on Wednesday 29 November.
  • The Business School will then convene on Thursday 30 November and Friday 1 December (venue to be confirmed), with a field day (venue to be confirmed) to view relevant business innovation in practice on Saturday 2 December.

Successful applicants for WFNC Scholarships should aim to arrive in Edinburgh on the evening of Sunday 26 November. All other BIS3 attendees should aim to arrive on the evening of Tuesday 28 November to attend a welcome dinner at 19:00. Departure for all attendees will be on the afternoon of Saturday 2 December (timing to be confirmed).

Number of places and eligibility

The Valuing Nature Programme will offer fully-funded places (school, travel, accommodation, meals, field trip) for around 25 early stage researchers. To be eligible, applicants must be registered for a PhD at the closing date for applications (see below) or employed as a post-doc researcher and awarded a PhD on or after 1 January 2015. The School is open only to applicants registered or employed at UK universities or research bodies eligible for UK Research Council funding.

Schedule for applications and notification

The deadline for submission of applications is 12:00 midday GMT on Wednesday 11th October 2017. Applications will be assessed in relation to: (1) relevance of current research to the School content; (2) motivation; (3) publication track record (assessed in relation to career stage). Consideration will be given to gender balance. The outcome of the assessment will be communicated, and invitations to successful applicants will be issued, by the end of January. Applicants should not book any travel prior to confirmation of a place at the School. Please also note that all accommodation and meals will be provided so applicants should not book separate accommodation in Edinburgh.


For any queries about the Business Impact School or the Valuing Nature Programme, please contact

To receive information on future Business Impact Schools or other Valuing Nature opportunites, please sign up to the Valuing Nature Network

Valuing Nature Annual Conference 2018 - Travel

Location: National Museum Cardiff, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NP

By Train: The nearest train station is Cathays Station, approximately 5 minutes walk from the Museum. The main Cardiff Central station is approximately 20 minutes away from the museum. For train travel information please visit National Rail Enquiries website.

By Bus: From Cardiff Central Bus Station take bus number 53 or 85 to the Museum. From Cardiff Bay take the Bay Car bus number 6. You can plan your journey using the Traveline Cymru website or by calling their helpline on 0800 464 0000.

On foot/By bike: The Museum is 20 minutes walk from Cardiff Central Bus and Train Station. A map of walking/cycle routes is available from Sustrans.

By Car: Junction 32 of the M4. For satnav use the post code CF10 3NP.

Parking: A Visitor Car Park is situated behind the Museum, off Museum Avenue. Purchase an exit token from the Museum Shop - £6.50. Parking is free to disabled badge holders.  


Map and further information:


Valuing Nature Conference 2018





Session A: Deep Dive: Health & Wellbeing - Nature and health

Health & Wellbeing - Nature and health: What do we know, what do we need to know, and how do we get there?

Chairs: Rebecca Lovell and Ben Wheeler, University of Exeter Medical School


Summary Points

We still lack practical evidence which can inform decisions about what to do, where, and for whom. Particularly regarding which interventions are co-beneficial (environment and health). 

We need to think more about how to support and facilitate the kinds of research studies which are useful to those making decisions. 

There are relatively easily achieved opportunities to improve the comparability of the evidence base by agreeing upon and integrating key measures (e.g. the 4 ONS wellbeing measures) into our studies. 

Joining the Dots: Global Challenges and the Valuing Nature Agenda

This new report Joining the Dots: Global Challenges and the Valuing Nature Agenda from the Valuing Nature Programme provides a review of published research which elaborates synergies between the Valuing Nature Network and Global Challenges Research agendas.

The report was written by a multidisciplinary team led by Valuing Nature’s Rob Fish (University of Kent) and Professor Rosie Hails (National Trust). 


Professor Rosie Hails, Head of Programme Coordination Team said "The natural world underpins economic and social prosperity, but is often undervalued and so over exploited. The developing multi-disciplinary research agenda ‘Valuing Nature’ aims to advance our understanding of the economic and social benefits we derive from the environment. This report explores how different parts of this research agenda are developing in the scholarship of different countries, reflecting how environmental context influences perspective. This should provide a valuable academic resource for the future."



  • Assess the extent and depth of valuing nature scholarship in ODA countries and how these map on to addressing global challenges;   
  • Identify and describe the networks of current and recent research collaboration that this scholarship entails
  • Establish key opportunities for advancing the global challenges research with respect to valuing nature scholarship.

Target Countries

Six Official Development Assistance (ODA) countries were chosen to represent geographically distinct circumstances and contexts:

  • China,
  • Colombia,
  • India,
  • Burkina Faso,
  • Kenya, and
  • South Africa.

Review Process

A comprehensive literature search was conducted through the Web of Science database, using a range of search terms pertaining to valuing nature concepts and mechanisms.

Abstracts were grouped and analysed around a ten predetermined thematic areas including trends in scholarship that link the Valuing Nature Network and Global Challenges Research agendas.

The review describes the Research undertaken, key findings and an overview of research Capacity (networks & funding).

C2: Demystifying Health & Health Metrics

What do we mean by human health when considering decisions about the natural environment, and what should we measure? This session will share the findings of the Valuing Nature “Demystifying Health” community-developed report and participants will help shape a new “Demystifying Health Metrics” activity.

Chair: Rosie Hails, National Trust  -  Valuing Nature Programme Coordination TeamDownload Demystifying Health paper

Introduction to session
Anita Weatherby - Valuing Nature Programme Manager

Introduction to “Demystifying Health”
Becca Lovell, University of Exeter  –  Editor of Demystifying Health

A systematic review and meta-analysis protocol of economic models and techniques for quantifying the impact of green and blue spaces in public health
Victory Ezeofor, Bangor University

What health metrics do the Green Infrastructure Partnership use & need?
Alistair Scott, Northumbria University

Keynote Lecture Series: Understanding linkages between biodiversity and ecosystem services for exploring the impacts of environmental change

This Valuing Nature Keynote Lecture was given by Professor Paula Harrison, from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). This 45 minute lecture was followed by a panel discussion chaired by Dr Rob Fish with Professor Michael Winter and Professor Rosie Hails. 

Date: 20 February 2018, 18:30 to 20:30

Venue:  Friends House, Hilda Clark 2 & 3, 173 - 177 Euston Road,  London, NW1 2BJ  

Abstract: Nature and human society interact in complex ways. Biodiversity underpins many ecosystem services that produce value for people but, at the same time, human development has caused significant losses in biodiversity through overexploitation and other drivers of environmental change. These complex interactions result in significant uncertainties that make it difficult for societies to decide upon the most appropriate actions to adapt to, or to mitigate, the impacts of environmental change. However, improving understanding of at least some of the key relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services and drivers of environmental change will help guide effective management and protection strategies.

Evidence chains provide a systematic way of portraying the relationships between biodiversity and ecosystem services, and how they are affected by drivers, impacts and management/policy responses. Each relationship in the chain is supported by a strength of evidence assessment based on a compilation of relevant scientific literature, data, models and expert knowledge. This has been supported by a systematic review of 780 journal articles which contain information on the contribution of different species, habitats and management techniques to the delivery of 13 ecosystem services.
The synthesis of current scientific understanding in evidence chains is useful for developing and improving models which simulate the impacts of environmental change on biodiversity and ecosystem services, allowing decision-makers to test different adaptation or mitigation strategies through “what if” experiments. A participatory integrated assessment (IA) tool (the IMPRESSIONS IA Platform) has been developed to allow stakeholders to assess climate change adaptation for a range of ecosystem services from the agricultural, forestry, biodiversity, coastal, water and urban sectors. The tool enables stakeholders to explore and understand the complex interactions and trade-offs between ecosystem services under different scenario futures in planning adaptation responses. Such insight builds the capacity of decision-makers to understand the full extent of climate change vulnerability, rather than viewing single sectors in isolation, highlighting the need to mainstream adaptation across sectors and policies.

Biography: Paula Harrison is Professor of Land and Water Modelling and the Principal Natural Capital Scientist at the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology. She specialises in working across disciplines to integrate different types of knowledge using both modelling and participatory approaches to find innovative solutions for operationalising the natural capital and ecosystem service concepts and adapting to climate change. She is currently the Coordinator of the EU-funded €9m IMPRESSIONS project on risks of high-end climate change and is a Coordinating Lead Author for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) regional assessment of Europe and Central Asia. She was a Contributing Author to the Europe chapter of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report, and was a Coordinating Lead Author for the UK National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-On, assessing the robustness of response options for ecosystem services. 


The 45 minute lecture was followed by responses from the following Panelists:

Dr Rob Fish (Chair) - Reader in Human Ecology at the University of Kent. Rob is a social scientist with research interests in the social and cultural dimensions of natural resource management. Member of Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team

Michael Winter - Professor of Land Economy and Society,  Centre for Rural Policy Research (University of Exeter). Member of Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team

Rosie Hails - Professor Hails is Director of Biodiversity & Ecosystem Science at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH). Head of Programme Coordination Team Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team

Delegates participated in a Q&A session to round off the evening.