Biodiversity & Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS) is a six-year (2011-2017) NERC research programme, designed to answer fundamental questions about the functional role of biodiversity in key ecosystem processes and the delivery of ecosystem processes at the landscape scale.
The overall goals of BESS are to:
- define how biodiversity within landscapes underpins the delivery of different ecosystem services at a range of scales and across gradients.
- establish whether there are critical levels of biodiversity required to deliver different kinds of services under different driver‐pressure scenarios, as well as which enhance the resilience of ecosystems to those different drivers;
- develop novel tools and indicators appropriate for tracking and measuring biodiversity and ecosystem services under those different scenarios.
These programme goals are mapped onto research themes will are to be tackled by teams of researchers (consortia) focusing on key landscapes – farmland, wetlands, uplands and urban systems as outlined in the announcement of opportunity. These teams will be brought together by the BESS directorate to establish a larger network of researchers and end-users of the research (practitioners and managers, regulatory agencies, the business community, policy makers, etc; see implementation plan).
The programme will also foster the development of a UK biodiversity research community with the capacity to deliver internationally excellent and strategic science. In addition to the setting up of landscape-focused consortia, a second tranche of funding will be announced to complement that consortia work and to provide clear opportunities for early career researchers through free-standing fellowships. Finally, the programme expects to interact extensively with related initiatives, especially with contemporary NERC programmes in related areas and with international programmes with similar aims to BESS to provide a global perspective.