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School of Geography

Archived news (EGC)

  • The second run of the FutureLearn Environmental Challenges Program was completed successfully with about 6000 participants from 170 countries registered on each of the five two week courses.

  • Sarah Batterman was quoted in a Guardian article about how threats of Trump administration cuts to funding for US climate science may affect UK scientists.

  • Tim Baker gave a seminar at CEH, Bush, Edinburgh entitled ‘New opportunities for conserving intact tropical peatlands’ partly based on a new publication: Roucoux K, Lawson IT, Baker TR, Honorio EH, Lahtenoja O, Gilmore M, Kelly T, Draper F, del Castillo D, Vriesendorp C. (in press) Threats to intact tropical peatlands and opportunities for their conservation. Conservation Biology.

  • Sarah Batterman gave a talk entitled "Symbiotic nitrogen fixation and the tropical carbon sink" at the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests at University of Oxford on March 3rd.

  • Oliver Phillips co-ordinated the NERC ‘Nordeste’ project field training in Morro do Chapeu, Bahia, NE Brazil. With plant science colleagues and students from Brazil and beyond we spent the first week of March trying to work out how to install permanent monitoring plots in the ‘caatinga’, some of the world’s spiniest vegetation. The region is now entering its sixth year of drought, but plants are remarkably resilient here.

  • Work with RAINFOR partners in Leeds and Amazonia suggests that most South American countries have provided net carbon sinks for decades - even after accounting for fossil fuel burning and deforestation. For more information see here.

  • An international team of ecologists and social scientists, including more than 20 researchers in the RAINFOR network led from Leeds, has found that tree species domesticated and distributed throughout the Amazon basin by indigenous peoples prior to 1492 contributed to modern-day forests. The research, published in Science, suggests that Amazonian forest species were significantly influenced by humans. The paper has been covered extensively in the media worldwide.  For more on this work, please see here.

  • Alan Grainger visited Helsinki to attend the 2nd User Workshop of the GlobBiomass Project, with which he is collaborating.

  • Julie Peacock and Karen Bacon presented a workshop entitled, “Practical ways to teach Urban Ecology” at the Higher Education Academy STEM conference in Manchester. Karen and Julie have also both been appointed to the British Ecological Society’s newly formed Teaching and Learning Special Interest Group.

  • Greta Dargie and Simon Lewis published the first map of the peatlands of the central Congo basin and first estimate of its carbon stocks. This region is now the world’s most extensive tropical peatland complex (145,500 square kilometres) and stores about 30 billion tonnes of carbon. The paper, published in Nature, was covered by the New York Times, Washington Post, BBC World Service, Guardian, Reuters and elsewhere.

  • Sarah Batterman was appointed as a Research Associate with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

  • Sarah Batterman gave a talk at the British Ecological Society Annual Meeting in December in Liverpool on taxonomy and nutrient acquisition strategies in tropical rainforest trees.

  • Marta Giannichi won first place in the SHOWCASE 2016 Three Minute Thesis competition.

  • Oliver Phillips has been recognised by Thomson Reuters as a Highly-Cited Researcher, one of nine at Leeds. This recognition is based on the number of top 1% cited papers published, normalised by field and by year, over the previous decade.

  • Jon Lovett is part of a consortium led by Lee Hannah of Conservation International that has been awarded a grant of USD$ 1,804,862 from the Global Environment Facility for a project on ‘Spatial Planning for Protected Areas in Response to Climate Change’. The project is covers Latin America, Africa and Asia. Leeds will be coordinating the Africa component. 

  • Jon Lovett has been awarded a grant of £1,243,000 from the Royal Society for Renewable Energy Capacity Building in Africa. The project will be implemented jointly with Andy Ross in the Leeds Energy Research Institute and the Centre for Doctoral Training in Bioenergy. 

  • Oliver Phillips was invited to the COP21 Climate Change Conference in Paris by the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research and the Peruvian Ministry of Environment. With Obama, Hollande, and our Charles taking the main stage, he presented to a distinctly smaller audience in the Peru pavilion. Simon Lewis was also invited to COP21, by the government of Gabon, to present recent research in central Africa, and discuss new research opportunities.

  • More than half of all tree species in the world’s most diverse forest – the Amazon – may be globally threatened. Via our leadership of RAINFOR and ForestPLots.net, several EGC staff contributed to the study, which also suggests that Amazonian parks, reserves and indigenous territories will protect most of the threatened species, if properly managed. The findings were announced by a research team comprising 158 researchers from 21 countries. The pan-Amazon RAINFOR network contributed hundreds of high quality forest monitoring plots to the effort, with more than 30 RAINFOR colleagues from Peru, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela, French Guiana, Guyana, and Bolivia all involved in the work, together with Oliver PhillipsTim Baker, and Roel Brienen. The paper has attracted huge world-wide media attention, and can be found here.

  • On 19 and 20 November Alan Grainger attended a meeting at FAO in Rome to analyse the results of the Collect Earth project, in which students and researchers at Leeds and eight other universities or research centres have mapped forests in the world's drylands this year. 

  • Oliver Phillips and Simon Lewis attended the first meeting of the International Forest Biomass Network, at the European Space Agency in Harwell, Oxfordshire, 17-18 November, for which we are founding members. Oliver gave a presentation on the work of the tropical ecological and ecoinformatics networks that we coordinate, ForestPlots.net, RAINFOR, and AfriTRON.

  • Jon Lovett gave a presentation on recent results from the RAINFOR project and forest restoration work by Kew at the Semana do Clima in Rio de Janerio 4-6 November; and was a panellist on a discussion about agriculture and land use chaired by the Brazilian journalist and filmmaker Sonia Bridi.
  • The below ground carbon mapping work by Freddie Draper and Tim Baker in the peatlands of northwest Amazonia was used by the regional president of Loreto, Peru to push for investment in the ‘green economy’ of this area of Amazonia, in recent bilateral meetings between Peru and Ecuador, and sessions during the 2015 Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Lima.

  • £10,000 from the University of Nottingham has been awarded to Oliver Phillips, Gabriela Lopez, Joana Ricardo: RAINFOR liana databasing to examine Amazon liana dynamics and tree impacts. 
  • Tim Baker gave two talks at the ‘Biodiversity and conservation of the tropical Andes and the Amazon rain forest’ meeting in Lima, 16-18 October. The first concerned strategies for successful permanent monitoring in tropical forests, and the second was on behalf of Freddie Draper about the carbon stocks of peatland ecosystems in northern Peru. He was also a panel member for a subsequent discussion session on improving the on-going national forest inventory in Peru. 

  • On 16 October, Tim Baker signed a cooperation agreement on behalf of RAINFOR (Amazon Forestry Inventory Network) with the Protected Areas Authority in Peru (SERNANP) to monitor the impact of climate change on the nation’s forests (see here). The first activity as part of this agreement will be training of SERNANP staff in methods of permanent monitoring, led by colleagues at the Instituto de Investigaciones de la Amazonia Peruana, in the Cordillera Escalera in northern Peru in early November.

  • Roel Brienen successfully applied for analysis of oxygen and carbon isotopes in tree rings from the Amazon basin through the NERC Isotope Geosciences Laboratory. The total award equates to an amount of £66,700.

  • Alan Grainger was in Bonn to attend the first meeting of the new Science-Policy Interface (SPI) of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), 24-26 June. Alan was one of 10 scientific members from around the world selected after an open call. He had previously been a member of the Ad Hoc Working Group on Scientific Advice which proposed the idea of the SPI to the UNCCD last year. Details of this can be found on the UNCCD website here.

  • Graeme Swindles has been awarded a research grant of £730 from the Quaternary Research Association to fund fieldwork at the Changuinola peatland in Panama later this year (Bocas del Toro: Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute).

  • Gabriela Lopez-Gonzalez was an invited speaker at the UKDataCite Workshop at the University of Glasgow on 13 June, speaking about minting DOIs for ForestPlots.net. The event was coordinated by the University of Glasgow and the British Library Datasets Programme.

  • Simon Lewis has signed a new extension with the Centre for International Forestry (CIFOR), for fieldwork, conducted by Lan Qie (Leeds’ T-FORCES Asia-focussed post-doc), and analysis of SE Asian tropical forests (worth $80K to Leeds).

  • On 3 June Guy Ziv led an inter-disciplinary workshop on the future for palm oil in Western and Central Africa, funded by an award from Africa Collage and co-organized with Keith Hamer (Biology), Anne Tallontire (SEE) and Chee Yew Wong (LUBS).  The event brought together staff from across Leeds faculties, researchers from the University of York and Leeds Met, UK-based NGOs (Fauna & Flora International, Proforest, Traidcraft and Oxfam) and two international guests:  Dr. Rebecca Azare, Director of Programs and Research from Nature Conservation Research Centre (NCRC) in Accra, Ghana and Dr. Christopher Stewart, Head of Environment and Sustainable Development in Olam International, Gabon.  The participants collaboratively identified and discussed research gaps across different issues ranging from yields, biodiversity, ecosystem services, production structures and supply chains, policies, and international standards. This was facilitated in three breakout sessions by Rebecca Slack and Louise Walker, Kathleen Wright (LIBACS) and Andrew Hirst (RIS).  The workshop provides a sound basis for the development of collaborative and inter-disciplinary research proposals that generate evidence to support policy and address the challenges in the different policy and ecological contexts of West and Central Africa.

  • The project Conservation and Sustainable Use of Tropical Forest Biodiversity, has been awarded to Lan Qie, Simon Lewis and Oliver Phillips, funded by the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), based in Indonesia. This award of ca. $70,000 will support fieldwork and salary for Lan Qie in Indonesia in developing a long-term forest monitoring plot network, as well as contributing to the Tropical Forests in the Changing Earth System team in Leeds.