Professional summary

Richard Pywell is head of UKCEH's Biodiversity science area. He leads the delivery of knowledge-based solutions to conserve and restore biodiversity, natural resources and ecosystem functions that are responsible for human well-being and livelihoods in semi-natural and intensively managed habitats.

  • Agroecology, in particular agri-environment schemes
  • Grassland ecology
  • Restoration of biodiversity and ecosystem services
  • Landscape ecology and conservation
  • Plant-insect and plant-soil interactions
  • Sustainable land management

Richard's agri-environmental research quantifies the effectiveness of agri-environment practices and policies, develops new and innovative approaches to enhance biodiversity and ecosystem function on commercial farms, and demonstrates the importance of farmer training and engagement in the delivery of policy objectives. He has led several projects to improve the effectiveness of agri-environment management measures in conserving farmland biodiversity, and protecting water and soil resources. Richard also designed and implemented a large-scale ecological experiment on a 1,000ha commercial arable farm to test the potential for environmentally sustainable increases in agricultural production by enhancing species (pollinations, pest control species) and ecosystem functions that support crop yields. This 10-year ‘ecological intensification’ experiment was funded by Defra, Natural England and the farming industry.

Richard worked with the farming industry and Natural England to design economically viable and environmentally sustainable means of controlling commercially important weed species, such as Blackgrass. And he led the independent pan-European study of the effects of neonicotinoid seed dressings on insect pollinators. 

Richard received a PhD on the 'Restoration of heathland on farmland in Dorset’ from the University of Liverpool.