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Greater Thames Marshes NIA

The Greater Thames Marshes has been designated a Nature Improvement Area (NIA) as part of a national initiative run by DEFRA. The NIA grant scheme was established to help address ecological restoration as part of series of actions at a landscape scale to improve biodiversity, ecosystems and our connections with the natural environment identified by the Natural Environment White Paper (2011) and taking forward recommendations identified in the Lawton Review Making Space for Nature(2010 ). The bid was lead by the Thames Estuary Partnership, with partners including RSPB, Essex County Council, London Borough of Havering, Greening the Gateway Kent and Medway, Environment Agency and Natural England. UEL's Environmental Research Group worked in partnership with Buglife (the Invertebrate Conservation Trust) to develop and support the Thames Terrace Invertebrate component of the proposal. This partnership with Buglife will be expanded to deliver project objective outputs.

PhD studentship in urban ecology

The ERG has secured funding for a PhD studentship to investigate urban biodiversity and innovative green infrastructure. Funding is provided through the TURaS FP7 programme. Working in partnership with London Wildlife Trust, Natural England, the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and Barking Riverside Ltd, the studentship will investigate innovation in the design and implementation of urban green infrastructure. This will include investigation of best practice for maximizing the ecosystem service benefits of urban green infrastructure through the incorporation of biodiversity-rich habitat. Research will include the design of green roofs and ground level landscaping and will have particular focus on, but not be limited to, invertebrate conservation. Link

ERG achieves major success with EU-funded TURaS research project

Leading work on green infrastructure by UEL’s Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) has led to the Institute successfully developing and securing a € 6.8m EU funded project, led by University College Dublin. The Transitioning towards Urban Resilience and Sustainability (TURaS) programme brings together urban communities, researchers, local government and SMEs to develop sustainable solutions to address the challenges of climate change, natural resource shortages and rapid urban growth. The five-year research project has a total of 28 partners throughout Europe. UEL’s contribution will be led by Dr Stuart Connop and Darryl Newport and will focus on a number of key research themes, including leading on a work package looking at innovative green infrastructure. For further information contact Dr Stuart Connop.

UEL Undergraduate Research Internship 2012

Dr Stuart Connop (ERG) and Toby Borland (SRI) won a UEL research internship award for their Knowledge Exchange Project developing a novel rain gauge to monitor rain water attenaution of green roofs as part of the Greater London Authority's Drain London programme. We are currently recruiting a UEL undergratudate student for the position.


Big Green Open Day

As part of the FLASH programme's (European Regional Development Fund) Big Green Open Day, Stuart Connop ran a site visit to the Barking Riverside Research Project to provide attendees to the event with an insight into green roof installation and maximising the ecosystem service potential of green roofs through innovative design. UEL teamed up with the National Federation of Roofing Contractors and Encon Roofing Systems to deliver this day of seminars on sustainable roof design.

UEL Undergraduate Research Internship 2011

Drs Elizabeth Westhead and Stuart Connop of the ERG won a UEL research internship award for their Knowledge Exchange Project investigating water quality issues of Buzzard's Mouth Creek, part of the Barking Riverside Developement*, East London. Two UEL undergratudate students, Ashford Clovis and Sarah May, will be visiting the Barking Riverside site, and leading an environmental detective study of potential water quality issues within the sustainable community being developed in Barking and Dagenham. Results of the study will be fed back to environmental officers working on the site and to statutory environmental agencies. As such, the work will directly contribute to:

* Barking Riverside Development is an ambitious regeneration project in the Thames Gateway that aims to transform one of the largest brownfield sites in the UK, to a sustainable community housing about 26,000 people in 10,800 houses, including schools and associated infrastructure.

EC Green Infrastructure Working Group

Following Richard Lindsay's attendance at the European Commission Conference on Green Infrastructure implementation, the ERG have been invited to join the EC Working Group on Green Infrastructure. The aim of the Working Group is to devise the appropriate instruments to manage the implementation of Green Infrastructure and to contribute to the development of a European Green Infrastructure policy. Richard Lindsay and Stuart Connop will be attending a number of workshops to support these objectives.

UEL joint winners in Sustainability Award

The University of East London has been named as joint-winners of the Sustain magazine Biodiversity award. The University won the award in partnership with the Green Roof Consultancy, for their work on the roof at 55 Broadway, above St. James’s Park underground station. The University was involved in monitoring the roof as part of a project for Buglife, the only organization in Europe devoted to the conservation of all invertebrates, from bees to beetles. Link.

UEL Biodiversity

The ERG's Jamie Freeman has put the finishing touches to the UEL Facilities sponsored biodiversity survey of the University of East London's campuses: UEL Biodiversity Evidence Base 2010. The report is the University's first step towards producing a Biodiversity Action Plan for its campuses and towards enhancing the green infrastructure of the university in order to support increased biodiversity and ecosystem services. Copies of the report can be downloaded from the ERG web pages and from UEL's Green Thing web page.

Convention on Biodiversity

Richard Lindsay will be attending the COP 10 Convention on Biodiversity in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010. Richard will be representing the Environmental Research Group and promoting peatland conservation and restoration within this major international forum, highlighting in particular the IUCN UK Peatlands Programme and a wide range of other peatland restoration programmes in the UK. Richard will be giving a major presentation about these issues at the DEFRA-sponsored side event 'UK Peatlands; habitat restoration delivering ecosystem benefits'. For further information please follow this link.

Barking Riverside Green Roof Experiment Launch

On October 22nd 2010, UEL, Livingroofs and Barking Riverside officially launched the Green Roof Experimental Research Facility at Barking Riverside Offices. Project partners along with representatives from local authorities, statutory agencies, local SME's and charities attended the event at the research facility. Speakers at the event included Jenny Jones (Green Party and GLA Housing and Planning Committee), Clive Wilding (Barking Riverside), Dusty Gedge (Livingroofs.org) and Dr Stuart Connop (ERG).

World Wetlands Day

Richard Lindsay was recently invited to give a talk on 'Peat bogs and climate change mitigation' at the World Wetlands Day Conference 2010: Wetlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change - Linking Policy, Research and Practice. The conference was organised by CIWEM to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Convention on Wetlands at Ramsar, 2nd February 1971. For further information including delegate notes, please follow this link.

Barking Riverside Green Roof Experiment

A collaborative project between the Environmental Research Group, the Sustainability Research Institute (UEL), Livingroofs.org, Barking Riverside Ltd and the Institute for Sustainability will investigate best practice for the design of green roofs. The ERG will be monitoring the thermal dynamics, water attenuation properties, water quality and benefits in terms of biodiversity of a series of green roof experimental plots. For further information please follow this link.

Stepping Stones for Wildlife

A collaborative project between Buglife, Essex Field Club and the Environmental Research Group has begun which will deliver landscape-scale invertebrate conservation for priority species in the nationally important region of South Essex. The ERG are providing mapping and monitoring expertise to help understand the spatial dynamics of populations in the region and to inform habitat management proposals at a number of key sites within the region. Link

Buglife launches 'Living Roofs' project.

The collaboration between Buglife and the Environmental Research Group which will see a living roof for biodiversity installed on the Arthur Edwards building at the Stratford Campus has been launched this month by Germaine Greer. The project will create seven ‘living roofs’ for rare bugs and birds in some of London’s most densely populated areas. Living roofs are seen as a vital step towards reversing the decline of urban wildlife caused by the ongoing loss of habitats such as brownfield land and gardens. Link

Buglife wins funding bid to install 'living roofs'

The Living Roofs for London's Wildlife project will create showpiece roofs designed to promote biodiversity in urban areas. The project will design and install 1,500m² of green roofs, recreating a range of habitats suitable for invertebrates in the Thames estuary. In collaboration with Stuart Connop (ERG) and Darryl Newport (Institute for Sustainability, UEL), Buglife and Dusty Gedge (a green roof consultant) have selected the University of East London's Arthur Edwards Building at the Stratford Campus as one of the sites for the new roofs. Installation should be carried out within the year and the Environmental Research Group will help to monitor the development of flora and fauna on the roof. [For further information see the Buglife website]

Windfarms on peat: scale of impacts

Richard Lindsay recently gave a presentation to the European Parliament Intergroup on Sustainable Development at a meeting entiled 'CUTTING CARBON BY CUTTING PEAT? - Can building windfarms on peat soil be counter-productive?'. His presentation and those from his co-presenters have been made available online.

Criminal prosecution highlights monetary value of wildlife sites

Richard Lindsay and the Peatland Research Unit (PRU) were asked last year by the government wildlife agency Natural England to provide expert witness evidence in a criminal prosecution being brought against a major land-owner in northern England.  Late last summer, Richard Lindsay and Jamie Freeman visited Wemmergill Moor, County Durham, to confirm the nature and potential extent of damage resulting from the unauthorised construction of roadways built across a sensitive moorland area.  The constructed track lies entirely within an area designated as a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EU Habitats Directive.  On 28th January 2008 at Durham Crown Court, the Judge described the construction as a “wound on this landscape” and accepted a plea of guilty from Wemmergill Moor Ltd.  In imposing a fine of £50,000, plus costs of £237,549, and imposing a restoration order likely to cost more than £200,000, the judge stated that the scale of fine was designed to “punish the Defendant company for carrying out works without consent and, secondly, to make it clear to all that the courts will act to protect important sites such as this.”  This is the largest fine, with costs, ever imposed in relation to a protected site in Britain, and Natural England is pleased that the courts have shown themselves willing to value so highly our most important wildlife sites.

Galway County Council found guilty in relation to Derrybrien wind farm

Back in 2004, Richard Lindsay, Head of the Peatland Research Unit, and Olivia Bragg of Dundee University, were commissioned by the residents of Derrybrien, Co. Galway, Ireland, to investigate the possible causes, and potential consequences, of the largest ‘bog-slide’ (a peat avalanche) recorded in recent history.  The bogslide began during construction of Ireland’s largest wind-farm development across the summit of a mountain above the village of Derrybrien.  In October 2003 some 2km of peat abruptly broke free during construction work and began to slide down the mountainside, narrowly missing parts of the village, before flowing for a further 20km along a local river system and into a major lake which was to have been used as a water supply for the local town of Gort.  Richard and Olivia examined the nature of both the bogslide itself and the planning process behind the granting of consent for the development by Galway County Council and the Irish Government.  On 19th March 2008, the Irish Courts found that Galway County Council was in serious breach of its own planning procedures in relation to consents that it had issued.  The report produced by Richard and Olivia formed a key part of the evidence in the judge’s findings.  This legal judgement will seriously weaken the case of the Irish Government in the European Court of Justice, where, based in part on Richard and Olivia’s report, the Irish Government is being prosecuted by the European Commission for similar failings in relation to the Derrybrien wind farm. [Full report can be downloaded on the reports page]



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