NovelEco is a five-year European Research Council (ERC) research project led by Professor Marcus Collier (School of Natural Sciences, Trinity College, Dublin) that commenced on June 1st, 2021. The aim of NovelEco is to explore novel ecosystem theory as a bridging concept and a conduit for rewilding urban society.
NovelEco is a citizen science project that will measure, for the first time, societal attitudes to urban wild spaces (novel ecosystems) by working with citizens to study them and generate data on urban ecosystems. It will engage citizens in co-creating an online instrument to enable ecological data collection within urban novel ecosystems.
During data collection, the citizen scientists will record their attitudes to novel ecosystems and reveal whether engagement with them alters their values and perhaps even their environmental behaviour. Comparing these data with the wider community, this project will be the first to quantify the social and ecological values of novel ecosystems.
NovelEco aims to refine and redefine the novel ecosystem concept and create a new awareness of the transformative potential of urban wild spaces.
Novel ecosystems are unmanaged wild areas that are created by human activities and because of this activity, they can never be restored to their original ecological status.
Though relatively new, novel ecosystem theory challenges our fundamental relationships with ‘new’ nature and what this means for the future of biodiversity conservation and societal progress.
This has resulted in much-polarised debate among the ecology community where novel ecosystem theory is highly contested, but there has been no engagement with human communities on the implications of novel ecosystems.
NovelEco will look at urban novel ecosystems – wild spaces of all shapes and sizes in our cities – and will ask citizens to tell us what is in them, and also what they mean to us and our daily lives.
The main aim of NovelEco is to explore novel ecosystems potential conduits for rewilding our cities and ourselves: the first step is on our doorstep!