HABITAT – Harnessing Pasture Biodiversity and Productivity

HABITAT – Harnessing Pasture Biodiversity and Productivity

HABITAT – Harnessing Pasture Biodiversity and Productivity

Delivery partner: Bangor University

Project summary: The highlands of Kenya comprise some of the most biodiverse regions of the world. However, these regions are under significant threat to land degradation as a result of human-induced climate change, land-use change, and the unsustainable use of the natural resources. Smallholder extensive dairy farms that rely on pastures to feed their cattle play an especially important role in these ecosystems. While these vulnerable farmers rely inextricably on the ecosystem services of the natural resources, often their management practices contribute significantly to their degradation. As identified by local stakeholders, while some research exists dedicated to understanding pasture management practices in these systems and greenhouse gas emissions, little is known about the trade-offs and synergies with biodiversity, and productivity.

By adopting a multidisciplinary approach, the project will explore existing pasture management practices, identifying ones that lead to enhanced biodiversity indicators and improved productivity, thereby decreasing GHG emission intensities, tackling poverty and enhancing climate resilience. Project partners will work with the farmers in their communities to stimulate farmer to farmer dissemination and scaling of improved practices. This will be facilitated by analyses of the potential bottlenecks and opportunities for different farming household types to use improved pasture management practices. More nuanced recommendations for stakeholders and policy makers resulting from these processes will further enable the scaling of these practices to similar contexts in the African region.


GCBC Grant Call 2 Info Webinar series : Session 1 (for Sub-Saharan Africa )

Join us online from January 22, 2024 to get all the details you need about the second GCBC Research Grant Call (RGC).

The Global Centre on Biodiversity for Climate (GCBC) is thrilled to introduce its second Research Grant Competition (RGC2), which will be launched in February 2024. This round invites research applications focusing on ‘Unlocking Nature – Driving innovation in how biodiversity can support climate resilience and sustainable livelihoods through practice and governance.’

Leading up to RGC2’s official launch and throughout the application period, potential applicants are invited to join our informative webinars (starting the week of January 22nd 2024). These webinars will delve into the competition theme, outline eligibility criteria, and provide details on RGC2 including the application and evaluation process.

We particularly encourage potential grant applicants from the Global South to attend. Organisations with a proven track record in addressing poverty reduction, gender equality, and social inclusion within the context of biodiversity conservation are strongly encouraged to apply.

This first webinar will take place on Monday, January 22, 2024, and will be on the topic of ” Introducing the RGC2 theme.”

It will be offered in three-time slots to ensure that it is accessible to participants in Southeast Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Latin America.

Southeast Asia: 09:30 a.m. – 10.30 a.m. (UK time)

Sub-Saharan Africa: 12:00 p.m. – 1.00 p.m. (UK time)

Latin America: 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. (UK time)

Register for the first pre-launch webinar here.

Stay updated on RGC2 and our webinar series by subscribing to the GCBC newsletter below, or follow us on X at @gcbc_org or on LinkedIn

Related events

Transparency and Traceability of Forest Risk Commodities

Countries: Global

Partners: World Resources Institute (WRI), Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Summary: The Traceability and Transparency (T&T) research project forms a UK contribution towards the international dialogue on the traceability and transparency of supply chains of internationally traded agricultural commodities including supporting discussions in the Forest, Agriculture and Commodity Trade (FACT) Dialogue. During its COP26 Presidency the UK launched the FACT Dialogue, with Indonesia as co-chair. The government-to-government Dialogue brings together the 28 of the largest producers and consumers of Forest Risk Commodities (FRCs), such as palm oil, soya, beef, cocoa and timber, to protect forests and other ecosystems while promoting sustainable trade and development and addressing the climate and biodiversity crises. The T&T research report aims to support growing an understanding of the state of global traceability and transparency systems in order to provide key stakeholders with the understanding they need to promote and guide positive change for people and forests. The T&T project provides a synthesis of the state-of-play regarding T&T of FRCs to enable a more comprehensive and data-driven response that stakeholders from both the FACT Dialogue and the international community can use to make evidence-based decisions in pursuit of our shared goals.

Related links: Traceability and Transparency in Supply Chains for Agricultural and Forest Commodities | World Resources Institute

Safeguarding biodiversity and climate resilience (SABIOMA project)

Country: Argentina

Partners: UK: UK Centre of Ecology & Hydrology; Argentina: University of Buenos Aires, The National University of Córdoba, The National University of Tucuman, The Catholic University of Salta

Summary: SABIOMA looks to develop integrative solutions to design nature-based solutions that promote biodiversity, increase resilience to climate change and contribute to sustainable livelihoods in Argentina’s agro-ecosystems.

Related links: SABIOMA

Piloting a living laboratory approach to sustainable agriculture

Country: Colombia

Partners: TerraViva Consortium- Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN), Alliance of Bioversity International and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Fundacion Natura, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA)

Summary: Integrated landscape approaches have emerged as a spatial unit for holistically managing various land uses and stakeholder needs within a region. It is a governance strategy that acknowledges the interdependencies of human and natural systems and seeks to optimise synergies and minimise trade-offs to harmonise wellbeing of rural communities with their environment. TerraViva is an emerging landscape management initiative, piloted in coffee-dominated landscape in the Gaitania area of Tolima Colombia to support the creation of a holistic plan with embedded platforms of good governance, wellbeing, livelihoods and traditional leadership to support small scale producers and their communities adapt to climate change and live in harmony with nature. The goal of TerraViva is to create a long-term development vision or Common Territorial Agenda (CTA) built from the perspective of local stakeholders that leads to a collection of solutions to meet both production, and environmental goals of the territory.

Watch ‘SAN TerraViva’ by Sustainable Agriculture Network

Kew Gardens: State of the World’s Plants and Fungi Symposium programme

Tackling the nature emergency: Evidence, gaps and priorities

In conjunction with the publication of a groundbreaking report, scientists, policymakers, businesses, NGOs, the public and media will come together for the fifth international State of the World’s Symposium.

Plants and fungi are the building blocks of our planet, with the potential to solve some of the greatest challenges facing humanity. But the vital resources and services they provide depend on diverse, healthy ecosystems. The future of these ecosystems, and life as we know it, hinges on the decisions we make today.

In October 2023 we will be publishing, in collaboration with international researchers, the fifth in our series of State of the World’s Plants and Fungi reports. The report takes a deep dive into our current knowledge on plant and fungal diversity and distribution – what we know, what we don’t know and where we need to focus our efforts.

This three-day hybrid symposium brings together experts to discuss findings presented in the report and to identify actions for understanding and protecting the world’s plant and fungal diversity. The discussions will be used to create a declaration containing a shared agreement and action plan for where scientific institutions aim to focus their collecting and research efforts to achieve the targets of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.


Date and time: 11 to 13 October 2023, daily timings vary

Location: Kew Gardens and online (hybrid event)

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.




Waste not, want not: Investing the use of disposable nappies and black wattle biochar for land rehabilitation in the upper uMkhomazi River Catchment (Environmental Pollution programme)

Residents in communal lands in the upper uMkhomazi River Catchment, in the KwaZulu-Natal Province, South Africa, do not have access to waste collection services. This results in the rise of improper and indiscriminate waste disposal including disposable nappies thrown away from the homestead, often in water courses, posing potential health and environmental risks. Faecal matter in nappies can contain pathogens and potential toxins. However, they are also a source of nutrients – particularly nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – that can be used for agricultural purposes. Burying nappies can enhance soil water holding capacity (through superabsorbent polymers (SAPs) contained in disposable nappies) and improve soil nutrient supply. Therefore, they can help rehabilitate degraded and nutrient-poor soils.

In the upper uMkhomazi Catchment there are ~7,500 ha of abandoned cultivated lands which have become degraded due to erosion and bush encroachment by black wattle (Acacia mearnsii). Clearing these trees/bushes could improve the ecosystem health and converting the wood to biochar can provide a source of carbon to improve soil biological processes and restore degraded soils.

This project aims to assess the utility of simple, low cost, and culturally acceptable options for the use of disposable nappies and biochar from black wattle, both individually and in combination, as in-field soil amendment media in degraded and abandoned agricultural lands at selected sites in the upper uMkhomazi Catchment. The initial experiments included two species of fodder plants (Napier Fodder and Vetiver Grass) and will be monitored over a period of two years (i.e., two growing seasons under rainfed conditions) with measurements of biomass yield, sediment capture, soil biological indicators, soil fertility, soil chemistry, soil water, pollution, and pathogens.

Positive impacts

This is the first year of a 3-year programme. Although too early to fully determine and measure the impacts, preliminary measurements suggest that treatments that included fertiliser show greater crop growth.


A hot, dry spell delayed the monitoring of the vetiver grass component of the trials for the first growing season. The team planted replacement tillers and provided temporary irrigation to assist with propagation. The dry spell is likely a consequence of climate change, and more frequent and erratic dry or wet climate events could be expected in the future.

Lessons learnt and next steps

Results from the first growing season show that this type of intervention yields positive outcomes. However, longer-term monitoring from multiple growing seasons will be needed to determine the full impact on the soil and plant growth and subsequent replicability.