Welsh science working with nature to tackle climate change showcased during Wales Climate Week

Wales Climate Week returns once more running from 22-26 November with a 5-day programme of virtual events packed with speakers from government, academia, third sector, industry and Welsh communities. The event provides a opportunity for nationwide discussion on Wales’ net zero and climate change goals. Over the course of the week, the programme delves into what Wales has already achieved, what changes to expect in the next five years and how, through collective action we can shape the future.

Agenda at-a-glance
Monday – Wales and the World
Tuesday – Energy and emissions
Wednesday – How Wales is responding to the climate emergency
Thursday – Exploring the role of nature in climate resilience
Friday – How individual choices impact the world climate

The research network organised a panel discussion on Thursday titled “Small nation, big ideas – how Welsh science is working with nature to address climate change”, chaired by Professor Mary Gagen. In the 75-minute session researchers from across Wales focused on nature based solutions to climate change. As well as hearing from the panelists directly, we also included the voices of researchers from the #SmallNationBigIdeas video series, played between each panelist.

Panelists left to right:
Professor Mary Gagen, Professor of Geography, Swansea University
Professor Bridget Emmett, Head of Soils and Land Use, Head of UKCEH Wales Research Station in Bangor, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (UKCEH)
Dr Prysor Williams, Senior Lecturer in Environmental Management, Bangor University
Professor Isabelle Durance, Professor of Integrated Water Sciences, Cardiff University
Professor Iain Donnison, Head of the Institute of Biological, Environmental & Rural Sciences, Aberystwyth University
Dr Richard Unsworth, Associate Professor in Bioscience, Swansea University.

During the session we heard how that is no path to net zero without conserving and restoring nature. This is because woodlands, wetlands and seagrass meadows store huge amounts of carbon which is released into the atmosphere when they are lost. Similarly, restoring these ecosystems can soak up carbon: a service to society which we will increasingly rely on in the journey to net zero. Nature also plays a key role in supporting adaption in the face of a changing climate: salt marshes can reduce coastal flooding, vegetation in urban areas can reduce urban heat islands with benefits for health and wellbeing, while better management of catchments can build resilience in the face of flood risks and droughts. Scientists are also capturing the power of plants to create new energy sources and bioproducts. The panellists covered a wide-range of truly innovative and world-leading science going on here in Wales which is making a genuine contribution to tackling the biggest challenge we face.

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