CEH delivers expertise and national capability by:


  • Research, monitoring and analysis: generating independent and impartial measurement and interpretation of natural and managed environmental change through extensive data networks, long-term, large-scale field studies and rigorous multidisciplinary research;

  • Scientific evidence, advice and innovation: developing and piloting decision-support tools and solutions that underpin UK and international policy, sustainable business and economic growth related to ecology and hydrology of the terrestrial biosphere;

  • Partnerships: facilitating environmental innovation to promote engagement, coordination and exchange across scientific disciplines, with Governments, Aid Agencies, businesses, regulators, HEIs, environmental practitioners and members of the public.

  • Policy and commercial support: CEH integrated UK-wide observation systems and research to deliver the evidence base for policy decisions on agriculture, flood management, natural capital assessment, habitat restoration and habitat enhancement for ecosystems services. It also informs business and industry on risks and opportunities for their operations in relation to natural capital and land-use management, including the sustainable intensification of agriculture and the sustainable management of soil, biodiversity and water resources.


30% of CEH’s external collaborations are with UK and overseas universities. These research activities facilitate the generation and sharing of new knowledge and understanding in relation to todays’ environmental challenges. They contribute directly to the development of skills nationally and internationally and facilitate institutional strengthening at home and abroad.


Another 25% of our activities are in partnership with environmental research institutes or organisations (public and independent). For example, members of the Partnership for European Environmental Research (PEER), the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research, Chinese Academy of Science, Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, IISC and NIH India, the Environment Agencies of England and Northern Ireland.  As well as other NERC research centres, and independent UK research institutes e.g. Rothamsted Research, CABI and James Hutton International. These relationships typically translate fundamental research to applied knowledge and developing practical solutions to real world issues.


Importantly, 25% of CEH’s collaborations are with private sector organisations such as Shell UK Limited, Syngenta Crop Protection, Neart Na Gaoithe Offshore Wind, Thames Water Utilities and consultancies such as Atkins and Mott MacDonald. These relationships focus on the development of cost avoidance / cost effective remediation approaches to environmental issues and (more recently) the development of novel products and decision support tools that generate income. The value of work undertaken with this sector is still relatively small reflecting current constraints in developing more flexible contractual arrangements with these organisations. However, it provides a good base from which to further exploit the results of CEH research and collaborations for the benefit UK businesses and markets. 


The remaining 20% of CEH’s collaborations are with UK and overseas Government Departments and Funding Councils. These relationships focus on the outreach leverage of national capability (including partnership and institutional strengthening) in response to the direct needs of the country where the research takes place. Most contracts are with UK government departments but significant potential collaborations are being developed with e.g. China and India. CEH is also developing a number of potential projects with international commercial, Government and Financial Institutes (such as the World Bank).  However, CEH is currently constrained in working with these organisations due to contractual terms and conditions in respect of UKRI rules on unlimited liability contracts. This area of collaboration also presents a great opportunity for CEH to further increase national capability in the UK and overseas.


Download the NERC Annual Report 2017/18

Our scientific capability is central in meeting national and international strategic research needs for land, air and water.  We are able to respond to emergencies that result from natural hazards and provide the infrastructure, scientific capability in assessment, modelling and long-term terrestrial, freshwater and atmosphere data management that underpins the ability of the UK to deliver world-class environmental science at the land surface.