The aim of this programme is to identify biodiversity at new levels of detail and understand the breadth and contribution to ecosystem services made by biodiversity within Latin America. This will be achieved through new transnational collaborative research activity.
Latin America is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world but faces challenges concerning unsustainable use of its biological resources for production of food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. There is a need to move away from current unsustainable management of biological resources and transition to a resilient natural resource economy.
Social and economic policy linked to environmental pressures will result in land use changes that will influence biodiversity and the ecosystem processes it underpins, at multiple scales. Moving to a natural resource economy will necessitate radical improvements in the quality and quantity of information to understand the breadth and contribution to ecosystem services made by biodiversity in Latin American biomes.
To achieve this across Latin America requires a transnational collaborative research activity to identify biodiversity at new levels of detail and understand the breadth and contribution to ecosystem services made by biodiversity. Improved understanding of Latin American biomes, ecosystem functions and their value will create the essential knowledge needed to inform environmental management and restoration, in the context of economic and social development needs. To provide this new level of detail, approaches including modelling, environmental omics, natural capital and Earth observation will be required.
Given the regional scale and complexity of the challenge, the Latin American Biodiversity Programme is being delivered in two phases.
The British Council-led phase 1 of the programme, which focused on creating capacity building and mobility schemes in the first year of the programme. Its aim was to increase the countries’ research and development capacity and boost interaction between Latin American countries and the UK; setting a stronger foundation for the subsequent large scale research collaboration.
Phase 2 (this programme) is a multilateral research programme led by NERC. The programme will be delivered through four interrelated themes that set out the considerations required to deliver a better understanding of the regional biodiversity and how it can be effectively managed as the region develops:
- understanding habitats and species
- biodiversity for sustainable livelihoods and bio-economy
- global climate change, biodiversity and ecosystems
- maintaining and restoring natural capital.
The programme is supported by the UK through the Newton Fund, which forms part of the UK government’s official development assistance commitment.
The outputs of the programme will align with several sustainable development goals including:
- goal 8 – promote the bio-economy
- goal 12 – understand the value of land management
- goal 15 – protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss.