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The University of Southampton
Interdisciplinary Research Excellence

Sustainability Science- New way of monitoring environmental impact could help save rural communities in China.

Published: 21 June 2012

Researchers from the USRG Sustainability Science at Southampton are pioneering a new way of measuring and monitoring the impact of industrial and agricultural development on the environment.

Working in collaboration with East China Normal University, the Nanjing Institute of Geography and Limnology and the University of Dundee, the team has created the world's first long-term record of ecosystem health, which examines the past condition of environmental resources in China's Yangtze basin region, and helps develop forecasts for the future.

"We have examined what effect modern intensive farming techniques have had on ‘ecosystem services' - things like food, fuel, soil and clean water - in the Yangtze basin area. From this we get an overview of the condition of these resources, which are essential for the survival of local communities," says lead researcher and co-chair of Sustainability of Southampton Professor John Dearing from the University of Southampton.

For further details, please see the University of Southampton Press Release:

For further details about Sustainability Science at Southampton, visit our webpage or follow us on twitter @SustainSoton

Project details:

This £250,000 project is part of the Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, Department for International Development and Economic and Social Research Council to the universities of Southampton, Dundee and Durham:

ESPA is a programme accredited under the Living With Environmental Change partnership:

Additional funding was from the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme Past Global Changes, National Natural Science Fund of China, the National Basic Research Program of China and the National Major Projects on Control and Rectification of Water Body Pollution.

  • 1. To read the full research paper, ‘Extending the timescale and range of ecosystem services through paleoenvironmental analyses, exemplified in the lower Yangtze basin,' visit:
  • 2. Researchers at the University of Southampton are about to embark on two international studies to improve the lives of more than one billion people who live in poverty around the world. The University will be leading two out of the three international consortium research projects funded by a £40.5m Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme, following a world-wide competition that attracted over 320 bids. For more information:



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