GlobalSeaweed – Supporting livelihoods by Protecting, Enhancing and Restoring biodiversity by Securing the future of the seaweed Aquaculture industry in developing countries (SUPERSTAR)

GlobalSeaweed – Supporting livelihoods by Protecting, Enhancing and Restoring biodiversity by Securing the future of the seaweed Aquaculture industry in developing countries (SUPERSTAR)

GlobalSeaweed – Supporting livelihoods by Protecting, Enhancing and Restoring biodiversity by Securing the future of the seaweed Aquaculture industry in developing countries (SUPERSTAR)

Countries: Indonesia and Malaysia

Delivery partner: SAMS, NHM, University of Malaya, and others

Project summary: Directly address the acute problem of lack of protection and overharvesting of wild seaweeds. The operationally and policy-relevant project outputs will be used by the seaweed industry, Indigenous Peoples and Local Communities (IPLCs) and local, regional and global policymakers, with the aim of ensuring increased protection, enhanced climate resilience and the sustainable management of wild and cultivated stocks and their associated habitats. This will increase biodiversity, protect livelihoods and safeguard the future of this vital industry in seaweed-producing, developing countries in south-east Asia and globally.

Nature Nurture

Countries: Indonesia, Tanzania, Philippines

Delivery partner: International Institute for Environment and Development

Project summary: Working closely with smallholder farmers in Indonesia, the Philippines and Tanzania, the project will tackle agrobiodiversity loss, which reduces livelihood options and climate resilience. Using the latest research co-production methodologies, it will improve evidence on how to upscale inclusive, resilient, agrobiodiverse production systems globally. It will build locally-based, internationally-linked research networks that enhance continuous long-term learning and capacity support around best practices with smallholder producers, fostering multidisciplinary partnerships that effectively advocate for better policies, leverage public and private investments, and drive transformation in how we produce food, fuel, fibre and medicines that are good for nature, climate and livelihoods.

The Flourishing Landscapes Programme

Countries: Ecuador, Ghana, Vietnam

Delivery Partner: University of Oxford

Summary: The Flourishing Landscapes Programme (FLP) addresses the triple challenge of livelihoods, climate change, and biodiversity loss at tropical forest frontiers. It will develop novel landscape-scale transdisciplinary research, via a new network of scientists and practitioners, to investigate strategies to both biodiversity and the climate resilience of smallholder farmers. By investigating agroforestry and community-led reforestation as nature-based solutions (NbS), the FLP addresses key knowledge gaps regarding the role of biodiversity in maximising nature’s contributions to people (NCPs) in agricultural landscapes. Building on this, via a human-centred design approach applied in Ghana, Ecuador and Viet Nam in coffee and cocoa production landscapes, the FLP will co-design, with rural communities, a citizen-led biodiversity monitoring toolkit to empower communities to utilise adaptive management to harness NCPs in their production. To showcase the value of the research data sets and citizen-science approaches, we will lead a co-design process with farmers, value chain actors and the insurance industry to explore risk sharing mechanisms that incentivise value chain investments in nature.


The GCBC Research Grant Competition 2 (RGC2) is now officially open for applications!

The Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate (GCBC) is a UK Official Development Assistance (ODA) programme that funds research into nature-based solutions to climate change and poverty reduction.

We are pleased to announce the official launch of the GCBC second Research Grant Competition (RGC2)!

Theme – Unlocking Nature: Driving innovation in how biodiversity can support climate resilience and sustainable livelihoods through practice and governance

For this call, we are looking for project concepts with a total budget between £100k and £1m (GBP) and a duration of 12 – 36 months, commencing from November 1, 2024. There is scope for different sizes (£100k-£250k; £250k-£500k; £500-£750k; £750-£1m) depending on the type or nature of the research to be funded. This will range from the smaller desk-based and locally focused projects to larger initiatives with research replicated in different localities/ countries and upscaling/ replicating proven solutions in an innovative approach.

GCBC invites project concept submissions that focus their research at the intersection of the GCBC’s three focus areas:

  • Climate change
  • Livelihoods and poverty alleviation
  • Biodiversity

The call will fund a portfolio of projects in ODA-eligible countries in the programme’s three focus regions (Latin America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and Pacific, and Sub-Saharan Africa), including Small Island Developing States (SIDS); which address the evidence gaps and from which the learning, solutions, tools, and methodology can be upscaled and replicated in other regions or countries.

We are looking for submissions that include novel and innovative approaches and project proposals relevant to the overarching theme and related sub-themes. View the Theme Paper

Throughout the application period, potential applicants are invited to join our informative webinars.

Register here for our next webinar

Applications are now officially open! The closing date for receipt of applications for Stage 1 is 17:00hrs GMT on March 17th, 2024.

Apply Now

Related resources:

Theme paper: This paper sets out the rationale and background for the theme of the second GCBC Research Grant Competition (RGC2) and the sub-themes where there are opportunities for interventions, that can make a difference in applying a systems approach. View the Theme Paper

Research strategy: This Research Strategy sets out the vision through the theory of change and ambition for a systems approach (Section 2) for the GCBC programme to ensure that new scientific evidence, knowledge and partnerships developed support the poor directly or indirectly, with improved livelihoods and resilience to climate change, while sustainably managing and using biodiversity. View the Research Strategy

RGC2 Stage 1 – ITA Overview: Download here

Project Concept Note Form (offline copy): Download here

GCBC Privacy Policy: Download here

RGC2 List of Eligible Countries: Download here

Webinar resources:

Webinar 1: Introducing the RGC2 theme (January 22, 29)

Download the webinar recording here

Download the slide deck here

Webinar 2: Walkthrough the RGC2 concept note, application process, & e-platform (February 5)

Download the webinar recording here

Download the slide deck here

Webinar 3: Partnerships (February 21)

Download the slide deck here 






Working Together for a Pollution Free Future for Nature, Climate and People (Environmental Pollution Programme)

Countries: Vietnam, South Africa

Partners: Vietnam project: The Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP), Ho Chi Minh City University of Natural Resources, Environment Together, Department of Natural Resources and Environment of An Giang Province, Institute of Agricultural Environment (Hanoi); South Africa project: JNCC, Institute of Natural Resources, Durban University of Technology, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Rhodes University

Summary: The Environmental Pollution programme aims to reduce biodiversity loss, climate change and human health impacts by tackling pollution and its effects in low- and middle-income countries. During Phase One of the GCBC, this work took place across two separate projects that focused on different pollution issues in their country of operation, Vietnam and South Africa.

Related links: Environmental Pollution Programme | JNCC – Adviser to Government on Nature Conservation

Deep-ocean resources and biodiscovery: enabling a sustainable and healthy low-carbon future (DEEPEND project)

Countries: Fiji, Cook Islands

Partners: Natural History Museum, National Oceanography Centre, University of Aberdeen, University of Strathclyde Glasgow, University of Southampton, Pacific: Cook Islands Seabed Minerals Authority, University of the South Pacific, Pacific Community

Summary: The climate change crisis has increased the demand for natural resources, such as lithium, cobalt, and manganese, due to their role in the green energy transition as important components for batteries of electric vehicles. With vast reservoirs of minerals present in the deep sea, mining in our oceans is already being discussed and could start within the next decade, but little is known about the biodiversity and Marine Genetic Resources (MGR) present in these deep-sea regions. DEEPEND looks to develop a long-term project to understand the true value of biodiversity in deep-sea regions at risk from mining and climate change. It utilises molecular approaches to provide fundamental knowledge on biodiversity, explore pharmaceutical applications of deep-sea microbes and invertebrates, inform policy on seabed mining, deliver development outcomes, enable understanding of future climate scenarios and provide long-term research and development value.

Related links: DEEPEND: Deep-ocean resources and biodiscovery | Natural History Museum 


A nature-based solution for biodiversity restoration and poverty alleviation in a time of accelerating global climate change (Innovative Seaweed Aquaculture project)

Country: Malaysia

Partners: UK: Natural History Museum, Scottish Association for Marine Science; Malaysia: University of Malaya, Jabatan Perikanan Sabah Fisheries Department

Summary: Seaweeds form some of the most productive marine ecosystems, supporting a greater diversity of species than almost any other marine habitat and providing a wide range of ecosystem services critical to the well-being of the oceans. Despite the massive importance of seaweeds, and their vital role in the global food supply chain, there has been very little effort to protect them. Their conservation remains patchy or non-existent globally. Increasing demand and temperatures mean that seaweed communities are predicted to lose up to 71% of their current distribution under certain climate change scenarios by 2100. The Innovative Seaweed Aquaculture project seeks to address this, by developing new temperature resilient seaweed stocks for farming and by outlining protection measures for seaweed globally. Seaweed cultivation offers a potential nature-based carbon neutral climate resilient solution to restore seaweed forests globally and alleviate poverty, particularly in the Global South. The project is being delivered via two main workstreams: i) the sustainable cultivation of novel red seaweed eucheumatoid strains collected locally from the wild; and ii) the conservation and management of wild seaweeds and cultivars around the world.


Biodiversity positive mining for the net zero challenge (Bio+Mine project)

Country: Philippines

Partners: Natural History Museum, Imperial College London, De La Salle University, Mindanao State University- Iligan Institute of Technology (MSU-IIT), and the University of New South Wales Sydney (UNSW)

Summary: Mines deliver essential metals, such as copper, that are crucial for the energy transition to arrest climate change, yet their legacy has often resulted in areas that have physio-chemical properties that are unable to support sustainable post-mining activities and can have negative impacts on local ecosystem biodiversity and communities. The Bio+Mine project, focusing on the Sto. Niño mine site in the Philippines aims to devise sustainable interventions for degraded mine sites that leave nature positive sustainable landscapes.

Related links: Bio+Mine: Biodiversity positive mining for the net zero challenge | Natural History Museum 

Developing novel seaweed cultivars from wild populations (Innovative Seaweed Aquaculture project ASTEC)

Seaweeds form some of the most productive systems in the marine environment. They support an immense diversity of species, provide valuable ecosystem services, and play an important role in mitigating climate change as major carbon sinks. Seaweed cultivation offers the potential for a nature-based, carbon neutral, and climate resilient solution to restore seaweed communities globally. Upscaling seaweed production offers a new, powerful approach to enhance community resilience, re-build natural seaweed communities, increase biodiversity, and enhance ecosystem services. It can also provide a socially acceptable means of restoring a communities’ local environment whilst maintaining economically sustainable livelihoods.

Eucheumatoids are tropical red seaweeds frequently used in the food and cosmetics industries. Increases in pest and disease outbreaks due to accelerating climate change, loss of genetic diversity, and biosecurity issues have led to seaweed production in Malaysia declining by 45% between 2012 and 2020, with catastrophic socio-economic impacts on the communities reliant on seaweed production. To address these challenges, there is an urgent need for new temperature-resilient cultivars derived from indigenous wild stocks, which can enhance the climate resilience of cultured stocks.

Positive Impacts

This project works with indigenous seaweed farming communities in Malaysia to collect populations from the wild for domestication trials at a research farm in Sabah. This has resulted in the discovery of new temperature-resilient cultivars that are brought into cultivation to enhance the climate resilience of cultured stocks in Malaysia. This is crucial to ensure the sustainability of the eucheumatoid industry despite the global climate change issues.


The major challenge during the project was the impact of the water currents on farmed seaweeds. The conventional method of tying the seaweeds onto the cultivation lines using plastic ties (called ‘tie-ties’) led to high levels of seaweed loss from the lines and increased fish and turtle predation. Consequently, growth rates could not to be measured. To solve this problem, the wild eucheumatoids were placed into the nylon nets. Unfortunately, this method also proved ineffective as silt from the seabed covered the nets and smothered the seaweeds.

Following discussions with the local farmers, new baskets were deployed with a larger mesh-size to prevent the entrapment of silt. The eucheumatoids were placed into the new nets for 2-3 weeks to enable sufficient growth before tying onto the cultivation lines. This solved the problem and reduced the effects of fish and turtle predation.

Lessons learnt and next steps

The outcome of this project was to develop new temperature-resilient cultivars that can be used by seaweed farmers in Malaysia. A system was developed for coastal seaweed cultivation of new cultivars that can be replicated throughout Malaysia. Site selection, however, was found to be extremely important, particularly the levels of siltation in the water column, which can suppress eucheumatoid growth rates.




Demonstrating the value of drones and remote sensing to a rural community in the Philippines (Bio+Mine project)

One of the key questions for management of legacy mines is to find an affordable way to monitor abandoned sites. Remote sensing provides both active and passive sensing technologies; however, a large skills gap lies between remote sensing technology and the ability to apply it locally. Nearly 40 years of analysed satellite imagery indicates that the Santo Niño site, in the Philippines, has not yet recovered to pre-mining conditions. Though the site shows improvements through time, the resolution of the satellite data is not high enough to assess how local biodiversity has evolved. Drones and associated imaging technologies can deliver centimeter-scale resolution images, solving this issue.

An aim of the Bio+Mine project is to carry out repeated high-resolution multi-drone survey of the entire study site to: i) provide spatio-temporal context to support the interpretation of the other in-situ measurements, ii) collect high-resolution data to inform the decadal results from satellite data, and iii) showcase how drone technology and machine learning can be used to manage natural resources efficiently.

Positive impacts

This project used two drone systems operated by trained graduate and undergraduate students supported by research assistants from the Philippines. Two full site surveys were performed and data delivered a new 3D digital elevation model for the area, providing a baseline for future land stability assessments. Drones also proved to be excellent tools for community outreach, attracting curiosity and engagement with the local population as well as local authorities.


The main challenges involved international air travel with drones (including lithium battery transport), difficulty complying with drone flying regulations, and the lack of active signals from the Continuously Operating Reference Stations network in the Philippines. Moreover, deploying drones efficiently and safely in mountainous terrain over vast areas was challenging and required experience.

Lessons learnt and next steps

Going forward, the project aims to train and enroll local partners to fly drones and support the creation of a survey startup. The cost of acquiring new drones limits local engagement. However, work has already begun in partnership with AminoLab, the innovation branch of Dela Salle University, to develop a 2.5 million PHP (~£60,000) entrepreneurship programme capable of supporting approximately ten companies.