CECAN Fellowship: Evaluating the Potential for Natural Capital Investment to Reverse Soil Degradation: A Dynamic Simulation Approach Exploring Connections between Soil Health and Money in England
Fellow: Jonathan Nichols
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has set the goal that by 2030 all of England’s soils will be managed sustainably as part of their new 25-year strategic plan. The Natural Capital Committee has emphasised the importance of natural capital investments for achieving Defra’s ambitions and highlight the need for new decision tools to support natural capital investment appraisals. The need for a systemic understanding of the interactions between soil and money has also been recognised as an important step in showcasing the potential commercial opportunities for investing in soils. Since soil is a dynamic ecosystem itself embedded in a still more complex socio-ecological system, proposals for investment in soil natural capital restoration and supporting policies must take account of the complex interrelationships, feedback processes and system dynamics that could promote or hinder their success.
Jonathan is a researcher and consultant who specialises in the use of simulation models for designing and evaluating public policy and organisational strategies in complex environments. His Fellowship will apply these techniques to identify potential “leverage points” for soil natural capital investment and develop a prototype simulation-based appraisal tool. This work forms part of Jonathan’s Master’s thesis project on the European Master in System Dynamics programme, hosted by an international consortium of universities: University of Bergen (Norway), Universidade Nova de Lisboa (Portugal) and Radboud University (Netherlands).