Joshua Davis

2022 PhD Studentship
Accelerating Nature-Based Recovery
Addressing Shifts in Skills & Behaviour in the Transition from Agriculture to Nature-Based Recovery
Countryside and Community Research Institute (CCRI), University of Gloucestershire


Throughout much of human history, increases in agricultural productivity have come at an environmental cost. To this end, current ‘intensive’ farming practices are failing –  insufficient in ensuring global food security and unable to shake ties to climate change, biodiversity decline, and associated loss of ecosystem services.

Given these pressures, we need ambitious land-management strategies that maximise agricultural productivity and increase space for nature, whilst simultaneously minimising the environmental impacts of current practices.

Policy incentives aside, success will depend, in part, on local practitioners having the skills to plan and implement nature-based solutions. My research aims to do just that: identify and develop the skills and learning pathways required in this agro-ecological transition.

Nature-based solutions involve working with nature to address societal challenges in providing holistic benefits for human wellbeing and biodiversity. Photo: Joshua Davis
Forging the skills to drive nature-based recovery

Specifically, my research aims to investigate and characterise the environmental, collaborative, digital, and commercial skills required to promote landscape-scale, nature-based recovery. Central to this is an understanding of how those involved best learn and implement the skills identified in practice, with the scale and urgency required to meet national environment and climate targets.

Through focus on participatory, mixed-methods research frameworks, this research seeks to engage a range of voices throughout the process, from local stakeholders (farmers, land managers, and agricultural advisers) to NGOs, policymakers, and corporate partners.

Evolutionary science & nature restoration

Coming from a natural sciences background, and working at the intersection between natural and social sciences, I am continually fascinated by the seemingly never-ending applications of the Theory of Evolution.

Given my research interests, I am particularly fascinated by our dramatic and far-reaching influence on the evolution of other organisms. Our collective role as a selective pressure, and resultant human-mediated evolution, has shaped our lives through the domestication of our closest allies, roaming livestock, and staple crops – the impacts of which we are only beginning to understand, appreciate, and utilise to full potential for human and planetary wellbeing.

Working at the intersection between natural and social science approaches allows for multi-disciplinary understanding and actionable research and policy outputs. Photo: Joshua Davis
Moving forward

The beauty of science lies in its storytelling, and I look forward to articulating my research interests to the broader public in engaging and thought-provoking ways.

Following my PhD journey, I hope to take on a consultancy-based or NGO role, supporting the organisations involved in accelerating landscape-scale, nature-based recovery across the UK.

The EET scholarship has allowed me to develop my professional and academic skillsets, fostering early-career opportunities and collaboratory links through the EET Partner Network.

I hope to provide well-evidenced and practical research outcomes, alongside policy and skills-based recommendations, to develop an increasingly resilient farming and agricultural land-management sector.

More about Joshua’s work:

Researcher profile