Latin American Biodiversity Programme: Biodiversity - Ecosystem services for sustainable development

Insect on a leaf

The Latin American Biodiversity Programme aims to provide trans-regional level understanding of the role of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and the services they provide in managing environments for sustainable development. The programme is delivered through two calls.

Phase 1 was led by the British Council, which created capacity building and mobility schemes in the first year of the programme. Phase 2 (this programme) is led by NERC, and is a multilateral research programme based on four thematic areas identified by the funders.

The programme is supported by the UK through the Newton Fund, which forms part of the UK government's official development assistance commitment. This programme is a collaboration with four Latin American research funders:

  • National Scientific & Technical Research Council of Argentina (CONICET)
  • São Paulo Research Foundation of Brazil (FAPESP)
  • National Commission for Scientific & Technological Research of Chile (CONICYT)
  • National Council for Science, Technology & Technological Innovation of Peru (CONCYTEC).

Collaborative projects to advance understanding of biodiversity in Latin America

17 May 2019

NERC-funded researchers have begun a series of collaborative projects with partners in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru to advance understanding of the social and economic role of biodiversity in Latin America, and how it can be managed more sustainably.

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Latin America is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, but faces challenges concerning unsustainable use of its biological resources for production of food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. There is a need to move away from current unsustainable management of biological resources and transition to a resilient natural resource economy. Social and economic policy linked to environmental pressures will result in land-use changes that will influence biodiversity and the ecosystem processes it underpins, at multiple scales. Moving to a natural resource economy will necessitate radical improvements in the quality and quantity of information to understand the breadth and contribution to ecosystem services made by biodiversity in Latin American biomes.

To achieve this across South America requires a transnational collaborative research activity to identify biodiversity at new levels of detail and understand the breadth and contribution to ecosystem services made by biodiversity. Improved understanding of Latin American biomes, ecosystem functions and their value will create the essential knowledge needed to inform environmental management and restoration, in the context of economic and social development needs. To provide this new level of detail, approaches including modelling, environmental omics, natural capital and Earth observation will be required.

Through collaborative multinational research and capacity building, the Latin American Biodiversity Programme will provide trans-regional level understanding of the role of biodiversity underpinning ecosystem functioning and the services they provide. The outputs of the programme will align with several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including: 8 (promote the Bio-economy), 12 (understand the value of land management), 15 (protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation, halt biodiversity loss).

Given the regional scale and complexity of the challenge, the Latin American Biodiversity Programme is being delivered in two phases. The British Council led Phase 1 of the programme, which focused on creating capacity building and mobility schemes in the first year of the programme. Its aim was to increase the countries' research and development capacity and boost interaction between Latin American countries and the UK; setting a stronger foundation for the subsequent large scale research collaboration.

Phase 2 (this programme) is a multilateral research programme led by NERC. The programme will be delivered through four inter-related themes that set out the considerations required to deliver a better understanding of the regional biodiversity and how it can be effectively managed as the region develops:

  1. Understanding habitats and species.
  2. Biodiversity for sustainable livelihoods and bio-economy.
  3. Global climate change, biodiversity and ecosystems.
  4. Maintaining and restoring natural capital.


2018 - 2022

Can I apply for a grant?

There is a call for proposals for collaborations between UK and researchers from participating Latin American countries. The deadline for submitting full proposals is 16:00 on 26 July 2018.


NERC has a budget of up to £4·5 million (80% full economic cost) for this call for eligible UK-based researchers, which will be matched in terms of research effort by Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru.