Landscapes for people, landscapes for nature

How to balance food production, biodiversity conservation, and the cultural values of landscapes.

Establish a long-term, interdisciplinary collaboration to investigate the impacts of different land-use strategies on multiple aspects of human and environmental well-being, with a clear pathway to informing public policy.

Balancing food production with other human and environmental concerns is a major societal challenge, and at the heart of multiple international commitments (e.g. the UN Sustainable Development Goals). A key debate is over how we use land.

Past research by DW, AB, DE, TF, RF, and others, revealed that biodiversity and carbon stocks are best conserved by combining high agricultural yields—reducing the area of farmland required to produce food—with natural habitat conservation. However, little is known about the implications of different land-use strategies on the social, cultural, and economic, values of landscapes. This major knowledge gap hampers the research community’s efforts to inform land-use policy.

This project will bring together a diverse range of expertise to investigate how to fill this knowledge gap, and establish the state-of-knowledge of these issues in the UK—an excellent case study, where millennia of intensive use have created unique cultural landscapes e.g. the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors, and the Peak District.

Lead Academic at Lead University

Dr David Williams University of Leeds

Lead Academics at other Universities

Dr David Edwards University of Sheffield

Prof Chris Thomas University of York

Other Staff Associated with this Project

Leeds: Dr Martin Dalimer (MD); Dr George Holmes (GH); Dr Christopher Lyon (CL); Prof Julia Martin-Ortega (JMO); Dr Rory Padfield (RP); Prof Lindsay Stringer (LS)—School of Earth and Environment

Prof Les Firbank (LF)—School of Biology
Hanna Pettersson; Thirze Hermans —PhD students, School of Earth and Environment

Sheffield: Dr Jolian McHardy —Department of Economics

York: Dr Colin Beale —Department of Biology

Other Partners
Prof. Andrew Balmford —University of Cambridge
Dr Tom Finch, Dr Rob Field —Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Dr Paula Novo —Scotland’s Rural University


  • Name:
  • Position:
  • Telephone:
  • Email:
  • Location:
  • LinkedIn: