A new Europe-wide project to help businesses and the public sector recognise, measure and report on the value of nature has launched, with £1.2m for University of Edinburgh initiatives.
The €11.5m CircHive project, funded by Horizon Europe, aims to help organisations make more informed decisions to protect ecosystems, enhance biodiversity and unlock new opportunities for society and businesses.
As a partner in CircHive, the University of Edinburgh will receive £1.2 million to co-ordinate case-study research and contribute to developing natural capital and biodiversity footprinting methods.
Photo: L-R Dr Theodor Cojoianu, Professor Marc Metzger and Yvonne Edwards of the Forest and Peatland programme
Two projects will receive funding – one exploring green cities, led by Professor Marc Metzger of the School of Geosciences, and one focussing on investor hubs, led by Dr Theodor Cojoianu of the Business School. They will work with the University’s Forest and Peatland programme to test their biodiversity measuring methods.
The University’s commercialisation service, Edinburgh Innovations, worked to bring the three projects together and help them qualify for the Horizon EU funding.
Professor Metzger, who is director of the Centre for Sustainable Forests and Landscapes, said:
CircHive is an exciting opportunity for collaboration with partners across Europe, while also strengthening research ties between the School of GeoSciences, the Business School and University’s Department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability. ”
Dave Gorman, director of the University’s department for Social Responsibility and Sustainability, said:
Having the University as a case-study within the CircHive project will prevent and reverse nature loss – something we have pledged to do as a founding signatory for Nature Positive Universities Alliance. ”
The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 and the newly adopted Global Biodiversity Framework both call for increased action to value nature and address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss together. These challenges must be tackled jointly; climate change can accelerate the loss of biodiversity, while biodiversity is essential for maintaining ecosystems that help us to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
Nature provides invaluable services such as clean air and water, fertile soil, pollination, erosion and flood control, and climate regulation. However, few organisations currently understand, measure or report their positive and negative impacts on nature.
CircHive’s 10 case-study partners will bring together the latest scientific methods with organisations looking to develop sustainable business models. Case-studies include working with Lacoste to monitor the biodiversity impacts of cotton farming, with Millwood to develop sustainable forestry management practices in Ukraine and with the city of Edinburgh, Scotland to understand the impacts of new development on biodiversity and natural capital.
CircHive will work closely with other businesses and cities to develop the BEEHive (Biodiversity Excellence of Enterprises), a new community open to any organisation interested in learning how to measure and manage their impact on nature. Members of BEEHive will collaborate in the development and testing of CircHive’s outputs and will receive support in developing sustainable management practices.
Main photo: the CircHive team at the project launch in Finland. CREDIT: Erika Winquist