Joint BES and BESS Symposium: Advances in Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services


There is an urgent need to understand how natural stocks are linked to flows of ecosystem services and how these linkages are likely to change in the future, given the environmental challenges of  an increasing population, demand for housing and infrastructure, the need to feed a rapidly growing planet and climate change. The UK has taken the lead in teasing out these linkages, reflected in a raft of research initiatives that are coming to fruition, including NERC’s BESS (Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability) programme, the co-sponsor of this meeting. The symposium will showcase those contributions through plenary presentation from leading researchers on a range of themes including: the policy drivers and context in which this research sits; working at the larger scales of landscapes and of trophic complexity; understanding the resilience of natural systems to uncertain futures; developments in novel  methodologies  in Earth Observation and in GIS-based  approaches; the challenge of cultural ecosystem services. Each of the plenary sessions is prefaced by a keynote address from leading international figures in the field (see below for list) and there are hands-on workshops showcasing practical tools needed by those taking an ecosystem services approach to management and decision-making.

Keynote Speakers

Dr Elena Bennett

Elena is an Assistant Professor at McGill University’s Department of Natural Resources. She heads up a large and active group focussing on how the types of ecosystem services interact across the landscape and how humans can manage landscapes to provide multiple ecosystems services; the trade-offs between agricultural production and water quality; learning how people change Phosphorus  cycles through farming, trade, and other activities, and how this, in turn impacts water quality. She takes a multiple-scale approach to her research ranging from the farm field to the watershed or region.

Professor Kai Chan

Kai is based at the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries, University of British Columbia. He is an interdisciplinary sustainability scientist who focuses on how social-ecological systems can be transformed to be better and wilder, including considerations of justice. He takes an empirical and modelling approach to his research and has a special interest in ecosystem services, in ecosystem-based management and  in socio-ecological systems and resilience. Kai has published extensively on cultural services.

Professor Heiko Balzter

Heiko is director of the Centre for Landscape and Climate Research at the University of Leicester which currently focusses on Earth observation for biodiversity and ecosystem services, pioneering the uses of satellite and other data to measure the spatial patterns and temporal dynamics in ecosystem services provision. Remote sensing of forests and agricultural systems for climate mitigation and food security form the core of this research.

Professor Jose M Montoya

Jose is Senior Scientist at the CNRS, based at the Ecological Experimental Station in Moulis, France, where he leads the Ecological Networks and Global Change group. His research focus on the interaction networks between species in ecosystems, mostly food webs, and symbiotic interaction networks, including how the structure of ecological networks affects ecosystem functioning and services such as primary productivity, nutrient processing and cycling, or the metabolic balance of ecosystems. His approach is to combine mathematical modelling, statistical analysis of ecological networks corresponding to different systems, and manipulative experiments using mesocosms. He works across different spatial and temporal scales, from global patterns to local community dynamics, and from fossil record data to short-term predictions and observations.

Professor Rosie Hails

Rosie is a Director at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Wallingford, where she heads up the  Biodiversity & Ecosystem Science team. Her research interests include the trade-offs between provisioning and other ecosystem services from agricultural land, valuation of ecosystem services, persistence and transmission of insect pathogens, exploiting pathogens for biocontrol, the role of pathogens in regulating insect and plant populations, population ecology of feral crop plants, risk assessment of genetically modified plants and viruses. She is vice-president of the British Ecological Society, a member of the UK Natural capital Committee and founded the Natural Capital Initiative.

Dr Ruth Waters

Ruth is Deputy Chief Scientist for Natural England and Principal Specialist Ecosystem Approach and Natural Capital. She has played a key and energetic role in promoting the Ecosystem Approach within conservation and management in the UK, especially in embedding the approach into day to day decisions and management of the natural environment. This includes consideration of ecosystem services, natural capital, natural assets, valuation (both monetary and non-monetary) and participatory approaches. Through her extensive advisory positions and activity she has played a major role in shaping the ecosystem services and natural capital research agenda.


Monday 24th April.

The meeting will start at 11:00, preceded by registration and coffee

Session 1 Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services; keynote Rosie Hails

Session 2 Thinking Big – Working at Larger Scales; keynote Elena Bennett

Poster session and mixer at 17:00.

Conference meal at 19:00

Tuesday 25th April.

Session 3 Resilient Ecosystems; keynote Jose Montoya

Session 4 New Tools and Approaches; keynote Heiko Baltzer

Session 5 Cultural Services; keynote Kai Chan

Session 6 Where Next for Ecosystem Services? Keynote Ruth waters

Wednesday 26th April