Programmes Official Development Assistance (ODA) Aims

Alongside the scientific research the UK- China Critical Zone Observatory programme aims to achieve environmental and social sustainability developments. They plan to do this through improved management of the local soil and water resources. The resulting progression in knowledge and understanding of the eco-systems from the planned research will benefit China but equally are relevant for UK and other regions worldwide.

Part of the funding for the programme comes from the UK Newton Fund. Newton Fund activities need to demonstrate that they are aiming to contribute to a reduction in poverty, and aim to further sustainable development (development that is likely to generate lasting benefits for the population of the country to which it is provided) or improve the welfare of the population of Newton Fund countries.

Common ODA outcomes across the UK – China CZO programme

Sustainable development

  1. Knowledge exchange between UK and China – Annual science and translation meetings, series of workshops for scientists, policy makers and land managers.
  2. Training of British and Chinese young scientists. Chinese residence in UK to carry out research, thus increasing skills and knowledge and returning it to China. UK young scientists participate in science trip to China to enhance knowledge and field experiments.
  3. Supporting China’s research infrastructure – infrastructure investment from Chinese funders jointly designed with UK teams, sensor technology installation and training, developing Critical Zone Observatories and using them for demonstration and experimental farms.

Improving the welfare of the population

  1. Welfare enhancement and economic growth in China through exchanging research outcomes with local and central government to make effective management decisions including:
    1. Improved local water quality and drought resilience
    2. Improved crop yield, food security, multiple crops and different land management strategies

Reduction in local poverty

  1. Guidance to farmers to adopt optimal agricultural and water management practises, thus increasing income by maintaining or increasing agricultural production (yield) informed by the understanding gained from the research programme.
  2. Technical evidence for poverty alleviation that can be implemented through compensation payment schemes for eco-system services such as soil conservation and C sequestration that are more valuable in monetary scale than the crop production


ODA outcomes specific to each project:

Project 1 (Karst) Specific 

  1. Identify the land management practices and natural processes that are most and least beneficial to maintaining the integrity of the CZ, and so provisioning of service and goods
  2. Undertake KE activities within academic and stakeholder circuits to ensure the outcomes of the research feed into effective management decisions for such regions
  3. UK team will appoint Chinese scientists as PDRAs, and their residence in the UK will expose them to the wider European science base and they will take this knowledge back to China
  4. Infrastructure investment (e.g. sensor technology installation in the CZ) will involve training Chinese colleagues in application and maintenance, further increasing the skills and knowledge base in China

Project 2 (Peri-Urban) Specific

  1. Design and deliver field manipulation experiments with NAAS and farmers
  2. Demonstrate with farmer’s potential yields and income through use of organic fertilisers
  3. Increase soil carbon content to mitigate GHG emissions and improve drought resilience
  4. Management practices to minimise pollutant risk to soil fertility, water quality and food safety
  5. Reduce reliance on mineral fertilisers and life cycle costs of embedded energy and pollution
  6. Improve practices for recycling farm and urban organic waste as fertiliser to land

Project 3 (SPECTRA) Specific

  1. 6 month periods of training for 4 Chinese early career researchers in UK laboratories will develop the research capacity in the Chinese groups.
  2. Development of sustainable land management strategies informed by understanding of the 19 fundamental processes and mechanism that underpin the delivery of ecosystem services in the Karst landscape of SW China.

Project 4 (Red Soil) Specific

  1. Improved knowledge of resilience of ecosystem services provided by China’s red soils
  2. A series of workshops for scientists, policy makers and land managers will lead to improved decision making in management of red soils for sustainable ecosystem services
  3. Training of scientists in interdisciplinary research will be completed by modelling Post Doctoral Research Assistances (PDRAs) carrying out placements in the field teams and the field PDRAs carrying out placements with the modelling team
  4. Knowledge transfer between UK and China will be improved by exchanging students between the two countries for extended visits, annual meetings and Work package meetings

Project 5 (Loess Plateau) Specific

  1. Broader knowledge of the processes of water cycle and soil erosion at the slope, watershed, and regional scales across the Loess Plateau
  2. Improved understanding of the effects of different vegetation types on the processes of soil and water
  3. Optimal ecosystem service functions for different vegetative types supported by local water and soil resources
  4. Guidance on practices and management for sustainable agro-ecosystem services across the Loess Plateau