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Centre for Enhancement of the Environment and Innovation

Centre for Enhancement of the Environment and Innovation

Led by Dr Fiona McCormack.

If you are interested in undertaking a research degree in this area, details of eligible supervisors can be found on the Graduate School webpage. Contact the Research Unit at ResearchUnit@BNU.ac.uk for more information.

SOCLIMPACT is a 4.5 million innovation action project funded by the EU Horizon 2020 scheme. As part of the decarbonisation portfolio, SOCLIMPACT models climate change effects and their socioeconomic impacts in European islands for 2030–2100.

Decarbonisation is the reduction or removal of greenhouse gas emissions from energy sources. The increase in these gases have been linked to climate change. Smaller communities in European islands are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The project aims to develop climate projections, assessing impact, risk and vulnerability to the island communities.

The project examines how European islands and archipelagos can flourish economically alongside the EU's Blue Growth strategy for sustainable progress in the marine and maritime sectors. It is also looking at how economies will grow as decarbonisation develops, focusing on the Baltic islands, Malta, Sardinia, Madeira, Cyprus, Sicily, Crete, Corsica, Canary Islands, Balearic Islands and the Azores.

SOCLIMPACT is led by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and includes partners from Spain, Germany, the West Indies, France, Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, and Malta, with representatives from the 12 EU islands and archipelagos. These representatives are experts and economic agents from the fields of maritime transport, fishing, aquaculture and tourism.

Professor Florin Ioras, Director of Research and Enterprise, is led the Bucks New University team alongside Research Fellow Ioan Dutca and Research Associate Dr Indrachapa Bandara. Further information is available on the SOCLIMPACT project website. For news and recent developments, follow @soclimpact on Twitter.

The impacts of climate change on water availability and water quality affect many sectors, including energy production, infrastructure, human health, agriculture, and ecosystems. The inability to attract young workers to the sector, with the required skills, is a crucial concern in Europe. Training initiatives are needed to make water management a more attractive sector and to transform both the academic knowledge and high-level basic and transversal competences to be useful and applicable.

One of the key priorities for HE is the reinforcement of the “Knowledge Triangle”, through the support of innovation, entrepreneurship and university-business cooperation. This specifically applies to those traditional sectors, such as the environmental-related sectors, where changes in education and training are required to equip the future workforce with the new skills for the new demands generated by the changing patterns of economic growth as a result of climate change (e.g.: water sources, tourism impact). Nevertheless, the European Security and implicit of its Water Sources is a key driver of sustainable growth with a significant contribution to Europe‘s overall economic health, competitiveness, creativity, innovation, employment, and growth. Staff qualifications along youth unemployment remain one of the crucial points in Europe. To boost the recruitment of highly prepared staff requires initiatives addressing training to make the sector attractive and capable of transforming both the academic knowledge and high-level basic and transversal competencies required to be useful and applicable.

For these reasons, this Strategic Partnership proposes the creation of a flexible learning pathway in line with the needs of learners and companies in meeting environmental targets and securing sustainable conditions for EU citizens.

This multi-partner international project is led by Professor Florin Ioras at BNU. Further details are available on the PARADOX project website.

The European Hub on New Challenges in the Field of Essential Oils, EOHUB, co-funded by the ERASMUS + Programme of the European Union under the Knowledge Alliance call, will contribute to achieve smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, through stimulating entrepreneurship and innovation in the field of EOs. It provides a strong partnership between higher education institutions, their research departments, and business, making the knowledge triangle work in a relative new sector with increasing opportunities for research, innovation and economic growth. EOHUB aims to increase the capacity of higher education institutions and business to integrate research results and innovative practice into the educational offer, and to exploit the potential for marketable process, methods and services in the field of EOs. Moreover, it helps graduates and PhD students to develop new entrepreneurship activities and marketable services in line with their curricula, which too often remain only at the level of “theoretical applications” and “case studies”.

Professor Florin Ioras and Dr Indrachapa Bandara are working on this project at BNU.

Further information is available on the EOHUB project website. For news and recent developments, follow @eohub on Twitter.

Funded by the Bristol Airport Carbon Transition Fund, Professor David-Warnock-Smith is leading this project and builds on previous research conducted at BNU.

In partnership with Queensland University of Technology, Earth, Environment and Biological Sciences, Dr Richard Mather is working on this project with the aim of identifying a remote sensible signal for water deficit in the canopy of upland heath vegetation.

This project uses small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for remote sensing, providing complete coverage quickly and without physical impact on the areas of interest. Numerous projects have developed remote sensing tools for monitoring vegetation changes in areas with limited, sensitive or dangerous access employing visible and near-infra red spectra to identify green vegetation and bare ground. These methods are less practical for upland heath and swamp vegetation, as they are composed of predominantly perennial species that may be able to tolerate periods of drought.

The key outcome of this project is integration of thermal infrared imagery to give an instantaneous measure of plant water status by comparing air and canopy temperatures. Integrating thermal properties with visible imagery enhances interpretation of impact and rehabilitation targets.

The ability to simultaneously detect vegetation condition and water status as well as thermal radiation properties of surrounding landscape will open numerous opportunities for improved rehabilitation and early identification of hydraulically related impacts. If successfully demonstrated in this project, methods can be transferred to other environments, such as open cast spoil rehabilitation.

The mobility and speed of coverage possible with remote imagery allows production of high spatial and temporal resolution vegetation stress-maps to inform management decisions. The recent development of small sensors that are radiometrically calibrated and capture synchronised imagery in visible and thermal spectrums represents an excellent opportunity for developing environmental, rehabilitation and impact monitoring to address concerns of regulators and NGOs regarding hydrological patterns at site and landscape scales.

Field experimental sites will initially employ previously studied communities within the Newnes Plateau State Forest that overlie the Centennial Coal mine sites. These communities hold knowledge of historical conditions and availability of communities with clearly understood mining impact histories. The 18-month project is due to complete in August 2019.

Funded by the EU Horizon 2020 scheme, WATERSPOUTT aims to provide safe drinking water to communities who rely on unsafe sources. The consortium completed a technological development programme to advance three applications based on Solar Disinfection (SODIS), which can make water safe to drink after it has been collected.

In parallel, a social science programme ensured that the technologies were adopted by the target communities in rural Africa, with the support of the local authorities and in an economically sustainable way.

The WHO and UNICEF estimate that nearly 660 million people around the world do not have reliable access to safe drinking water. Half of these people live in sub-Saharan Africa, in rural areas which will remain unconnected to any municipal piped water supply for the foreseeable future. Entire communities obtain drinking water from unsafe sources (for example, untreated surface water) and are continuously at risk of contracting disease through exposition to waterborne pathogens and, in particular, faecal pathogens.

SODIS is an affordable household water treatment that uses sunlight to kill harmful microbes and provides safe drinking water to remote communities that rely on unsafe sources throughout the Sub-Saharan African Continent and other resource poor countries. In this project, use of the technology is examined in four chosen research sites in Malawi, Ethiopia, South Africa and Uganda.

The novel SODIS technologies are systems for use with domestic and community harvested rainwater, transparent SODIS 20L jerrycans and Combined SODIS/ceramic pot filtration systems. These are commercialisable technologies which will create employment and economic benefits for citizens in both the EU and resource-poor nations. The overall aim and impact is to transform access to safe drinking water through integrated social sciences, education and solar technologies. The project aims align with The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number six which aims at achieving by 2030 universal and equitable access to safe and affordable drinking water for all.

The WATERSPOUTT consortium was led by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with 18 partners from the UK, Milawi, Uganda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Ireland, Netherlands and Austria. The project started in June 2016 and is due to complete in 2020.

Further information is available on the WATERSPOUTT project website: http://www.waterspoutt.eu/ . Project news and recent developments can be found by following @waterspoutt_eu on Twitter.

PANIWATER is a four year project funded by the Horizon 2020 EU – India joint call on Research and Innovation for water. The project aims to increase the availability of drinking water using treated waste water in peri-urban and rural Indian communities. The PANIWATER consortium consists of 18 worldwide and European partners that are working to develop six prototypes to remove contaminates from waste water and drinking water. These will then be trialled in research sites in India.

Initial successes with the WATERSPOUTT project, and overlap in consortia partners supported the successful funding of this project, with the PANIWATER consortium also led by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland.

An objective of the EU WATERSPOUTT project was to develop a 20L Transparent Jerrycan for solar disinfection (SODIS) purposes. The project demonstrated that the optimum material for its manufacture is polypropylene (PP). However, they were unable to source a manufacturer in Europe or Africa who could produce them from that material. The PANIWATER project includes funding for the manufacture and evaluation of polypropylene Transparent Jerrycans in India. Almost every household without access to safe water in low-income countries has a jerrycan. If this project is successful it has the potential to replace all of these with polypropylene Transparent Jerrycans which will provide safe drinking water for the most vulnerable communities across the globe.

BNU’s role in the project is now led by Dr Ramesh Marasini.

Follow project updates on twitter at  @paniwater_eu and on the project website.