Date of release: Tuesday, June 13, 2017

WetlandsA major project to assess the social and economic value of wetlands in England, with particular emphasis on the management of mosquitoes, is being led by the University of Greenwich.

Wetlands can mitigate some of the effects of climate change such as coastal and inland flooding. They also provide social and economic benefits.

However, healthy wetlands that are attractive to the public require management to minimise risks from biting insects such as mosquitoes.

The project, WetlandLIFE, is being undertaken by six research institutes and focuses on 12 natural wetland sites in England. It brings together social scientists, ecologists, historians, artists and economists to highlight the social and economic value of wetlands and their associated wildlife.

Dr Tim Acott, Director of the Greenwich Maritime Centre, part of the university's Faculty of Architecture, Humanities & Computing, is WetlandLIFE's principal investigator.

He says: "This project gives us a fantastic opportunity to develop practical guidelines for wetland management, reflecting a greater understanding of mosquitoes alongside the importance of wetlands to local communities.

"Wetlands have always been part of the British landscape. They are important places for work, leisure and relaxation as well as protecting communities against flooding.

"However, the creation or expansion of wetlands can cause communities to be concerned about changing land use and an increased presence of insects, such as mosquitoes. Our research will help us support the human health and wellbeing benefits that wetlands can provide."

Mosquito experts and ecologists at the University of Greenwich's Natural Resources Institute (NRI) are working with Public Health England to improve wetland management for the benefit of the environment and human wellbeing.

The NRI team, led by Gabriella Gibson, Professor of Medical Entomology, says: "We are developing ecological guidance for identifying and managing mosquito populations.

"Our findings will be integrated with those of the other disciplines to enhance our understanding of how best to support healthy wetlands for the benefit of all."

The Greenwich team also includes Dr Frances Hawkes, Behavioural Entomologist Research Fellow and Bob Cheke, Professor of Tropical Zoology, from NRI, working alongside Dr Adriana Ford, Environmental Social Sciences Research Fellow, of the university's Department of History, Politics & Social Sciences.

Other organisations contributing to the project include Public Health England, Forest Research and the universities of Brighton, Bristol and Cranfield.

WetlandLIFE is part of the Valuing Nature Programme, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).

Wetlands mean LIFE: Greenwich scientists initiate pioneering project:

Story by Public Relations