Dr Ross Cameron is Senior Lecturer in Landscape Management, Ecology and Design at the Department of Landscape, University of Sheffield. He is a natural scientist specialising in urban green infrastructure and its role in ecosystem services (ES) provision. He is a strong advocate of the functional landscape plant with research activities involving assessment of different plant genotypes in an attempt to optimise ES delivery. This includes research that aims to identify plant groups/species that within an urban context improve i. rainfall interception and surface water flow management, ii. provide superior thermal insulation properties to buildings or roadways, iii. enhance human health and well-being (restorative effects) (See Cameron and Blanusa, 2016 Annals of Botany). He also has a number of current projects aligned with plant survival and performance in urban habitats. Ross had led more than 2 dozen research projects (total value in excess of £6m). He has published in full book form and book chapters, and numerous peer-review papers, including chapters/review papers on urban biodiversity and urban ES provision through plants. He is a science advisor to the Horticultural Innovation Partnership (DEFRA), Health and Horticulture Forum (DEFRA), Agricultural and Horticultural Development Board, the Royal Horticultural Society and previously to the Greening The UK initiative (engaging with local government about value of urban green space).
Ross believes that Designed Ecology is about recognising that careful design and management of urban green infrastructure is essential to optimise the benefits we derive from the landscape including:
- enhanced ecological function (e.g. greater biodiversity and more resilient ecosystems)
- improved ecosystem service delivery (opportunities for food and fibre production, pollution control, less risk of flooding, cooler cities, ‘restorative’ landscapes with health and well-being benefits etc.)
- increased public awareness and support for green space
- allowing people greater opportunities to engage with the natural world.
In his recent book Environmental Horticulture, Science and Management of Green Spaces (Cameron and Hitchmough 2016) Ross quotes that ‘urban biodiversity will become increasingly important in enabling a largely urban human population to access and understand nature. Complementary disciplines such as Designed Ecology and Environmental Horticulture can help bridge the gap between traditional highly-manicured green space and more ecologically-robust spaces, whilst ensuring such places remain highly relevant to an urban human population’.