Introducing our new Policy Interface Fellows

The Landscape Decisions Programme are delighted to announce the award of four new Policy Interface Fellowships to Dr Victoria Jenkins, Dr Leo Peskett, Dr Sophie Tindale, and Dr Martin Wilkes. The Policy Interface Fellowships are intended to support the integration of research on landscape decision-making into policy. The four Fellows will each oversee a unique project aimed at ensuring interdisciplinary research and policy interfaces are improved both for the current Landscape Decisions Programme projects and for future research in the area of landscape decisions.

Victoria Jenkins – “Integrating Evidence on the Benefits of Peatlands into Local Policy and Decision Making”

Victoria Jenkins is an Associate Professor of Law in the Hillary Rodham Clinton School of Law at Swansea University. Her research interests lie in environmental law, specifically legal approaches to sustainable land management and natural resource management, including the significance of ideas of landscape. She is particularly interested in these issues from a local and Welsh perspective.

Leo Peskett – “Coordinating natural capital planning at a regional level: how can existing and emerging tools help?”

Leo Peskett is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Geosciences at the University of Edinburgh. He has over a decade of climate change research, consulting, and policy making experience at international and national levels within developing countries, and has been influential in the development of global policies to reduce emissions from deforestation.

Sophie Tindale – “What drives effective knowledge exchange between policy and research communities for landscape decisions?”

Sophie Tindale is a Research Associate in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at Newcastle University. She is an environmental social scientist with an interest in governance and management of natural resources. Her work focuses on using qualitative methods to understand stakeholder systems and behaviours in relation to policy implementation and decision-making.

Martin Wilkes – “Beyond ‘Good Ecological Status’: Making better use of freshwaters as sentinels of landscape functioning

Martin Wilkes is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Life Sciences at the University of Essex. He is an ecologist with an industry background in data science, and is interested in data-driven explanations and predictions of biodiversity change. Utilising large (river basin to global) scale datasets, ecological theory, statistical programming and high performance computing, his work aims to support the environmental science and management communities find solutions to the challenges of maintaining biodiversity, food production and water security in a changing world.

Events News Projects

Creative Conversations Workshop March 2021

Organised by the AALERT 4DM project this workshop will consider arts-based research related to landscapes and the environment, and discuss barriers and opportunities for further integrating these approaches into decision making.

Providing opportunities for discussion and constructive dialogues between diverse disciplinary perspectives and professional practices. It will bring artists (practitioners and researchers) into conversation with other academics and stakeholders (including land managers, policymakers and natural and social scientists) to critically reflect on emerging interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary examples involving arts research from the UK and abroad.

The workshop will also be used to help set the agenda for AALERT 4DM regional case studies planned for later in the year.

News Projects

Tipping Points Project Love & Soil ‘slow’ conversation

During March LDP project Tipping Points and their partners Northern Heartlands have been holding a virtual conversation between farmers, conservationists, researchers and artists. Prompted by the idea of meeting in the messy middle, and a desire to promote discussion that was the opposite of the arguments and pile-ons that so often fill social media, Love and Soil has been a space to be thoughtful, connect and find shared meanings.

Open by registration on a password protected website the Love and Soil conversation has provided a troll free space where participants are actively sharing opinions in a positive way, engaging in discussion and developing understanding about, and respect for each other.

Love and Soil began with writer Amy-Jane Beer’s plea for farmers and environmentalists to ‘hold hands’ a bit more and bring together people who recognise that we are all on the same side.

The conversation will come to a close on 28th March, but that won’t be the end of Love and Soil – after the conversation closes the Tipping Points team will work with a film producer to curate a thirty-minute film of the ‘slow conversation’, giving a flavour of the discussion that will be available to view online so that a wider audience can get involved, opening up further opportunities for discussion.

In this era of polarisation when it feels even more important to find more positive ways to connect with each other digitally, the Tipping Points team and Northern Heartlands hope that the ‘Slow Conversation’ has provided that opportunity.


The Landscape Decisions Programme welcomes seven new Fellows

The Landscape Decisions Programme Coordination Team (PCT), and UK Research & Innovation (Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC)) are pleased to welcome seven new Fellows from across England, Wales and Scotland to the programme.

The programme is developing a community of researchers and stakeholders with interests in improving the processes of landscape decision making in order to deliver environmental, economic and societal benefits across the UK. The Fellows will work with the PCT in collaboration with other projects funded within and beyond the programme.  The Fellows will be conducting projects on multidisciplinary landscape research synthesis, translation of research outcomes into policy-relevant applications and on community engagement with landscape decision-making

Professor Heiko Balzter, who is leading the Programme Coordination Team, said: 

The Landscape Decisions Fellows have a critically important role in the programme. They provide connections between funded projects, contribute to synthesising the research outcomes and undertake their own individual research. There was high competition for the fellowships and I am pleased to say that we appointed excellent candidates at all levels of their professional careers.” 

The seven Fellows and their projects are: 

Dr Janet Fisher, University of Edinburgh: Developing a Toolkit for Mapping and Deliberating Values for Uplands Management (MADEVU). 

Dr Fisher said: 

“I’m delighted to have been awarded this landscape decisions fellowship as it will enable me to pioneer new understanding and ways of working with stakeholders towards the potential amelioration of upland conflicts’.‘I’m really excited about the interdisciplinary basis of the landscape decisions programme. With multiple new and escalating physical, social and policy drivers of change in the UK landscape, it is an important chance to improve the governance of land.’  

Dr Adam Calo, The James Hutton Institute: The role of property, ownership and land tenure on landscape decision making: The case of Scotland’s ‘low carbon farming’ policies. 

Dr Calo said: 

“I’m delighted to join Landscape Decisions Programme as a Fellow. The concerted effort to join up the social and biophysical sciences along with the arts and humanities demonstrates the type of consortium required to meet grand environmental challenges at a systems level. I look forward to stimulating thinking on how norms of property, land tenure and land access restrain or enable the ability for land managers to take on climate positive decisions in the agricultural sector, and I hope to make a timely contribution though the Landscape Decisions Programme.”  

Dr Christopher Lee, University of Exeter: Co-desIgning Robust natural Capital LandscapEs (CIRCLE). 

Dr Lee said: 

“I’m delighted to have been awarded a Landscape Decisions Fellowship, and I’m excited to begin translating the expertise of the Landscape Decisions Programme into the policy design process, and ultimately environmental benefits to society.Working at the heart of government policy development will give me, and colleagues in the Landscape Decisions Programme, the opportunity to better support decision makers, and to improve the use of our work in the policy design process in future.  

Dr Jonathan Walker, Swansea University: Supporting the development of peatland policy, strategy and practice, and its delivery, in Wales (Welsh Peatlands Evidence). 

Dr Walker said: 

I’m thrilled about my Landscape Decisions Fellowship! The Landscape Decisions programme is so relevant and timely given these times of significant change our landscapes are in – changes in priority outcomes, management methods and financing. It’s so important that at this juncture, the decisions we take for our landscapes and us are informed by up to date, robust evidence.   

Dr Leo Peskett, University of Edinburgh: Bridging the national and local in landscape decision making: building effective regional partnerships that deliver on climate policy objectives. 

Dr Peskett said: 

“The Fellowship is a really exciting opportunity for me to work directly with the end users of landscapes decisions research, finding ways to creatively and effectively incorporate research into the establishment of pioneering new landscape decisions institutions. Landscape planning and management is crying out for frameworks that can help make sense of the hugely complex area of landscape decision making. The Landscape Decisions Programme, with its breadth, depth and cross-disciplinary approach, can make a hugely valuable contribution in this area and help to deliver more sustainable landscapes”  

Dr David Baker, University of Exeter: Co-production of a software tool for field-scale species distribution modelling (fs-SDM) and mapping using local biodiversity records. 

Dr Baker said: 

“The Landscape Decisions Programme has the potential to transform the way in which multifunctional landscapes are managed for both people and nature. Support for this type of applied research is not widely available and consequently the award of this fellowship within the Landscape Decisions Programme is exciting for all involved. The complex problems of designing and managing multi-functional landscape necessitates working within multi-disciplinary teams and I am looking forward to working within the Landscape Decisions community to develop novel insights into my own work and to foster future cross-disciplinary collaborations“.

Dr Emma Gardner, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology: How many trees should we plant and where? Modelling the landscape-level benefits and biodiversity consequences of woodland creation. 

Dr Gardner said: 

“The Landscape Decisions Programme has created such a fantastic multidisciplinary community, where everyone’s knowledge and experience is welcomed and valued. As an Early Career Researcher, being part of this culture of state-of-the-art knowledge exchange is both invaluable and inspiring. This Fellowship has given me a unique opportunity: it allows me to work alongside stakeholders and use my multidisciplinary background to really understand the complexities of a topic that is not only highly policy relevant, but can also have big potential consequences for us all.” 


For further information contact the PCT at