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Natural Environment

Unit(s) of assessment: Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology

Research theme: Sustainable Futures

School: School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences


Research in this area explores environmental issues, including the principles underlying the exploitation of natural resources and waste management.

Research Areas

  • Nutrient cycling, eutrophication and algal bloom control in aquatic environments
  • Pollutants in soils, waters and sediments
  • Integrated waste-water treatment and water-energy-food security
  • Peatland management
  • Natural flood attenuation
  • Application of GIS, Remote Sensing, UAVs and spatial analysis
  • Glaciers and associated geomorphological change since the Neoglacial
  • Environmental effects of space weather and changes in the geomagnetic field

Case Studies

Solving Eutrophication

Harmful algal blooms are a global environmental problem that affects public health, water quality, ecological function services and local industries. It is a very difficult problem to tackle worldwide and there is a great need for novel technologies that can control HABs in a cost effective and environmental friendly way.

Professor Gang Pan and his team have developed a novel technique that can use modified local soil (MLS technology) to remove algae, improve water quality, remediate polluted sediment, reduce internal loads and make the excess harmful nutrients in eutrophic water a resources for aquatic ecological restoration and biodiversity conservation. Impacts include local government policy and industrial application for water protection in China and in New Zealand.

Peatland Conservation

Peatlands provide a range of valuable ecosystem services and are priority habitats under the UK Biodiversity Action Framework. Much of our peatland has been damaged by drainage for agriculture or forestry and mining for horticulture or fuel. The Environment Team at the School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences (ARES) has been involved in a range of research related to the functioning, management and restoration of peatlands (both lowland raised bogs and upland blanket bogs).

Research focuses on hydrology in relation to the preservation and restoration of peatland habitats and the impact of drainage on habitat conservation and human water supplies.Several UK water companies have become increasingly concerned about rising levels of water colour (associated with dissolved organic carbon from upland peat) being experienced at their water treatment works. Dr Labadz and Dr Clutterbuck have undertaken a variety of research projects on the potential impact of land management on biodiversity and resultant water quality within related catchment areas.

Related staff

Academic Staff

Research Fellows

  • Barry Smith (visiting)
  • Jon Hillman (visiting)

Doctoral Candidates

  • Chloe Hayes
  • Chloe Lucas
  • Dalton Baltazar
  • David King
  • Dinish Nadaraja
  • Kieran Gething
  • Helen Pietkiewicz
  • Richard Wilkinson

Related projects

Our current research projects include:

  • Purification of toxic micropollutants in rural drinking waters using advanced nano materials (National Key R&D Program of China 2017YFA0207204) - Professor Gang Pan
  • Monitoring the impact of gully blocking on GCR designated features in degraded blanket bog (National Trust and Nottingham Trent University) - Dr Jill Labadz, Dr Ben Clutterbuck
  • Monitoring the impact of blanket bog conservation using an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (part of MoorLIFE 2020, an EU LIFE funded project) - Dr Ben Clutterbuck
  • Evaluating controls on supraglacial lake formation and evolution (ESA Grant) - Anne Stefaniak, Dr  Nicholas Midgley, Dr  Ben Clutterbuck, Dr Jillian Labadz
  • Evaluating the roles of debris supply and ice dynamics in supraglacial lake formation (QRA Grant) - Anne Stefaniak, Dr Nicholas Midgley
  • Monitoring peatland restoration success (Post LIFE+ Ordunte Sostenible) - Dr Ben Clutterbuck, Guaduneth Chico León