Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and the University of Derby have agreed a series of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) to combine the skills and know-how needed to support the Trust’s ambitions to be at the forefront of ecosystem services provision.
The partnership will provide the academic expertise that the Trust needs to grow by developing an innovative and holistic business model that can leverage its conservation expertise and enable it to operate commercially, while remaining true to its charitable status.
For 60 years, owning land for nature conservation has been the main function of Derbyshire Wildlife Trust and continues to be at the heart of its strategy. Through KTP funding, this collaboration will help the Trust build capability to generate income through managing land by providing a range of services in relation to biodiversity net gain (BNG), wellbeing improvement, carbon sequestration, nitrate and phosphate mitigation.
Under the terms of the partnership, the University will recruit three graduate associates to work on the project for two years. During their time working with Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, the KTP recruits will embed new methods into the organisation, training the existing staff team.
The graduate associates, supported by the staff team at the Trust and academics from the University of Derby’s School of Built and Natural Environment and Derby Business School, will develop a bespoke simulation framework to assess biodiversity outcomes for target sites, and novel tools for baseline biodiversity assessment and long-term site monitoring.
This will be complemented by a Management KTP to develop a holistic business model that offers the Trust a mechanism to continue its nature recovery work, whilst generating income and fulfilling other social and environmental objectives, such as flood risk management and water quality improvement.
Matt Buckler, Head of Wilder Landscapes at Derbyshire Wildlife Trust, said:
“Following the Government’s announcement to make BNG a mandatory requirement for planning permission, coupled with the recent COP26 and upcoming COP15 conferences, there has been a shift in thinking towards nature-based solutions to meet environmental and climate emergencies.
“We recognised this catalyst for change early on, and knew that with support from the University to transform our business capabilities and working practices, we could protect land for nature, as we always have done, whilst providing the ecosystem services needed by society, landowners and organisations such as developers and utility companies.
“We are very much looking forward to working with the University of Derby and embedding our new associates into the organisation to help us maximise this significant opportunity and establish ourselves as the leading provider of ecosystem services in the county and beyond.”
Dr Anne Danby, Course Director for the School of Built and Natural Environment at the University of Derby, added:
“The KTPs are an exciting opportunity for academics and students at the University. The BNG work is cutting-edge, in a highly technical area and will draw on the skills of our academic team in remote sensing, biodiversity analysis and ecological modelling to support Derbyshire Wildlife Trust in this innovative endeavour.
“It also offers a great learning opportunity for hundreds of our undergraduate and postgraduate students, from across business management, operations and supply chain, environmental management and sustainability courses. They will all learn a lot from the case studies, projects and guest lectures generated by this project.”