Our history

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology was formed in 2000 through a merger of four Natural Environment Research Council terrestrial and freshwater research institutes:

  • The Institute of Hydrology
  • The Institute of Terrestrial Ecology
  • The Institute of Freshwater Ecology
  • The Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology.

Scientists from these institutes have monitored and modelled environmental change for over 50 years, carrying out discovery science and supporting evidence-driven solutions to complex environmental challenges.

In 2019, the Centre became independent from the Natural Environment Research Council and its parent organisation UK Research and Innovation, and was re-named the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

Our long-term environmental monitoring

The UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology provides long-term environmental monitoring. We host a wealth of environmental information, gathered over decades. This video gives an overview of how our long-term data sets have evolved over time.

Timeline

1962

The Hydrological Research Unit is set up to conduct a study of catchments with contrasting land cover.

1964

Monks Wood reports

The Biological Records Centre is set up by The Nature Conservancy based at Monks Wood to process and edit the information received from various volunteer recording schemes.

1968

The Natural Environment Research Council, established in 1965, designates the Hydrological Research Unit one of its institutes and renames it the Institute of Hydrology.

1973

The Institute of Terrestrial Ecology is established from former Nature Conservancy stations and staff. It focuses on developing a sound scientific basis for predicting and modelling environmental trends.

1975

Flood studies report

The Institute of Hydrology produces the landmark Flood Studies Report, which requires the collection of data from over 550 gauging stations.

1978

Countryside 2000 map

The Institute of Terrestrial Ecology carries out the first Countryside Survey of Great Britain. This becomes a regular audit of the country’s natural resources.

1988

The UK National Hydrological Monitoring Programme is formed to document hydrological and water resources variability across the UK.

1989

The Institute of Freshwater Ecology is created from the Freshwater Biological Association laboratories and the Scottish Freshwater Group of the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology.

The Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology is formed from existing institutes within the Natural Environment Research Council.

1993

Institute of Terrestrial Ecology scientists are among the first western scientists to conduct experimental studies in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone.

2000

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology is established, bringing together the Institute of Hydrology, the Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, the Institute of Freshwater Ecology and the Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology.

2000

The Environmental Information Data Centre, a Natural Environment Research Council data centre, is created to make environmental data available to all UK researchers. The Data Centre is hosted by the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.

2002

The Centre leads UK farm scale evaluations, the biggest experiments of their kind, to assess the impacts on biodiversity of growing genetically modified herbicide-tolerant crops.

2003

The Centre opens a new purpose built site as part of the Lancaster Environment Centre at Lancaster University.

2007

JHW-ECW

The Centre opens a new purpose built site as part of the Environment Centre Wales, in partnership with Bangor University.

2010

The Chiltern Wing, a new £10 million state-of-the-art integrated laboratory facility, is opened at the Centre’s Wallingford site.

2012

Rotap cover

The Centre leads the Review of Transboundary Air Pollution (RoTAP), which shows the effects of policies introduced throughout Europe to mitigate long-range transport of pollutants in Europe.

2017

The Centre publishes results from the first pan-European large-scale field trials, showing neonicotinoid pesticides harm honeybees and wild bees. The research contributes to the EU’s decision to ban specific neonicotinoid pesticides.

2019

The Centre for Ecology & Hydrology becomes an independent not-for-profit research institute and is re-named the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.