A new research-backed venture named Nature+ launched at Trinity today, with the goal of better connecting scientific experts in sustainability with industry and governmental partners.
The group will work with and for these partners to accurately quantify and safeguard our natural capital, which underpins the flow of nature-based goods and services on which economic activities depend.
Nature+ comprises a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Trinity’s School of Natural Sciences, and from other institutions, with experience in understanding natural systems in order to manage and sustainably use them.
The group will work with industry partners to develop transferable methods for managing natural capital, and, by better understanding the feedbacks between natural capital and climate systems, it will design future-proof solutions to ensure economic growth.
Professor of Zoology at Trinity, Yvonne Buckley, is one of the many global experts within the Nature + group. She said: “As we reach the ecological limits of our natural resources we can either use technology to replace lost functions from nature, or we can use technology with nature to supplement, enhance and renew those functions and services.”
“There are some things we currently get from nature which are either prohibitively expensive or impossible to replace. Through an understanding of natural capital and how it combines with other types of capital to provide functions and services to industry and society we can make more informed decisions about where, when and how much to invest in restoring, renewing and enhancing these assets.”
“Nature+ will work with industry, government and society to develop new methods for working with nature to provide sustainable products and services.”
Nature+ will help address the many societal challenges driven by expanding human populations, globalisation and climate change, to ensure food security, protection against natural hazards, efficient resource use and a cleaner, healthier environment to live in.
Its members will provide the research to underpin development of sustainable products and services to address these challenges and provide solutions that a multitude of individuals and businesses can use.
Professor in Botany at Trinity, Jane Stout, said: “The Nature+ team brings together expertise in the living and non-living natural world, with which human societies interact and depend. In a rapidly changing world, interdisciplinary research to address societal challenges is increasingly important."
"For a sustainable future, public and private bodies need to recognise their impacts and dependencies on the natural world and act accordingly – business as usual is not an option.”
At the launch event Nature+ researchers gave presentations around the importance of managing natural capital, along with Global General Manager of $3 billion company, Alltech Crop Science, Robert Walker, Head of Natural Resources Risk Management at Bank Of Ireland, Paul Harris, and Natural Capital Finance Specialist at the European Investment Bank, Jane Feehan.
Smart Agriculture Case Study
The FAO estimates that global food production needs to increase by 70% by 2050 to feed a human population of 9.6 billion. It will be difficult to achieve this level of production, given the agricultural land and freshwater requirements. Degraded ecosystems, pest problems and climate change all challenge global and local production goals.
The Nature+ team is developing smart agricultural technology and approaches to manage agricultural systems to maximise productivity, improve environmental conditions and influence consumer behaviour. Professor in Botany at Trinity, Trevor Hodkinson, along with Dr Brian Murphy and Ms Anna Kaja, are developing patented strains and seed delivery systems for endophytes (naturally occurring microbes that enhance crop growth and survival) that reduce agricultural inputs and improve yields and sustainability of farming systems.
For more information about Nature+, see: https://naturalscience.tcd.ie/natureplus