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School of Geography

Archived news (EGC)

  • The ERC ‘T-Forces’ project work on the long-term carbon sink in Borneo’s forests is featured in a new Nature Communications collection “Forests in the Anthropocene”.

  • Simon Lewis gave a keynote presentation to the third Global Peatlands Initiative conference in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo.

  • Jon Lovett gave talks on natural resource management and building interdisciplinary research teams at the British Academy supported Language and Nature symposium at the University of Qatar, Doha.

  • An article in the New York Times on the creation of the new Yaguas National Park in Peru used and cited Amazonian peatland work.

  • The 2016 RAINFOR paper by Ted Feldpausch, Oliver Phillips et al. "Amazon forest response to repeated droughts" in Global Biogeochemical Cycles was one of the top 10 most requested papers in 2017 across AGU journals, with 3379 downloads.

  • Rob Pheasant delivered the School of Geography presentation to students at Ampleforth College in North Yorkshire.

  • Simon Lewis met the Democratic Republic of Congo Environment Minister in Kinshasa to discuss ongoing work on the peatlands of central Congo and their protection.

  • Simon Lewis attended a meeting at Chatham House on Bioenergy Carbon Capture and Storage.

  • There has been more coverage of the Nature Communications paper which came out over Christmas revealing the Asian forest carbon sink and how it is threatened by drought and fragmentation. The paper features in CIFOR's forest blog with an interview with Dr Lan Qie.

  • Jon LovettKaren Bacon and Alan Grainger attended a workshop on biodiversity and climate change at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew as part of the SPARC project on the impact of climate change on protected areas in the topics.

  • Jon Lovett met with Jan-Bart Gewald, Director of the Africa Studies Centre in Leiden to explore collaboration on renewable energy research in Africa.

  • Freddie Draper, former PhD student, has been awarded a 3 year Marie Curie Fellowship, with Tim Baker. The joint project between SoG and the Carnegie Institute, USA aims to use high resolution hyperspectral remote sensing to map the diversity of Amazonian forests.

  • Sophie Fauset was an invited participant at the sDiv Monodominance international working group funded by the German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research.

  • Tim Baker, with Ian Lawson (St Andrews) and Santiago Rivas Panduro (Ministerio de Cultura, Peru) presented their recent work linking ecological, palaeoecological and archaeological evidence to understand the intensity and causes of deforestation in the region of Iquitos in northern Peru over the last 2500 years, at the Ministry of Culture, Iquitos, Peru and on a couple of local TV stations.

  • The peatland science and mapping work in Peru led by former PhD student Freddie Draper and Tim Baker, contributed to the justification of the creation of the new >800,000 ha Yaguas National Park. The park includes the territories of more than 29 indigenous communities and some of the most diverse forests on the planet. See technical report (in Spanish) here. Read Mongabay report here.

  • The Technical Series 89 report of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) entitled “The Lima Declaration on Biodiversity and Climate Change”, including chapters by Tim BakerOliver Phillips and former PhD students Freddie Draper and Euridice Honorio was presented at the 21st meeting Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice to the CBD in Montreal.

  • Karen Bacon was awarded a University Researcher Mobility Award for the project “Investigating the plant responses to climate change in the Jurassic and Cretaceous Canadian High Arctic through analysis of fossilised plant cuticles” and spent two weeks in the Geological Survey of Canada hosted by Dr Jennifer Galloway.

  • Karen Bacon and Fiona Gill (SEE) were awarded White Rose University Consortium Collaboration funding to establish a consortium on Climate–Leaf Chemistry Interactions.

  • Jon Lovett visited the British Embassy in Angola and held meetings with British Petroleum in Luanda in connection with his Royal Society project on renewable energy capacity building in Africa.

  • Graeme Swindles’ recent paper published in Geology on the relationship between climate change and volcanic eruptions has been covered by an article in Scientific American.

  • Simon Lewis and Congolese indigenous community leader Valentin Egobo starred in a French TV documentary on the peatlands in the Democratic Republic of Congo, watched by 2.8 million people in France.

  • Marta Giannichi was invited to attend a debate in the House of Representatives in Brasilia, presenting her published article together with Guy ZivTim Baker, Martin Dallimer and Gordon Mitchell. The debate was targeted at the committee responsible for elaborating the regulation about the Brazilian Forest Trading Scheme.

  • Graeme Swindles’ recent paper in Geology examining the relationship between climate change and volcanic eruptions has received media coverage in many outlets including: Huffington Post UKMSNBC NewsweekInternational Business TimesNewsweek among several others.

  • Simon Lewis gave an invited lecture to the Royal Geographical Society as part of their Monday Night lecture series, on Congo’s Hidden Peatlands.

  • Alan Grainger gave a presentation on “citizen observatories” to a monitoring webinar organized by the Forest and Landscape Restoration mechanism of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Alan has been involved with the mechanism since its inception, and his presentation was based on a paper he published earlier this year on “Citizen observatories and the new Earth observation science”.

  • Oliver Phillips gave a public lecture in Brazil on the scientific and human challenges of understanding the impacts of global change in Amazonia. His talk, “Monitoramento da Floresta Amazônica em Tempos de Mudanças Globais”, was delivered to students and staff of the Federal University of Goias in Jatai, during a visit to Mato Grosso and Goias.

  • Simon Lewis and Greta Dargie conducted their first field campaign in the peatlands of the Democratic Republic of Congo, assessing their previously published map, and taking 19 journalists from 10 countries to see the peatlands to encourage discussion about their conservation. News reports on TV, radio and print appeared in France, UK (The Guardian), Germany, Holland, Norway, South Africa, DR Congo, the USA, and China. Lewis and Dargie then travelled to the UN climate talks in Bonn for meetings with the DRC government and donor countries. The DRC Environment Minister mentioned the importance of preserving the peatlands in his speech to the UN at the Bonn talks.

  • Jon Lovett gave a keynote presentation on 'Tropical Forests: Global Collaboration for Education Equity' at the 2nd Asian Education Symposium on the Island of Lombok.

  • Oliver Phillips participated in the workshop ‘Space-Based Measurement of Forest Properties for Carbon Cycle Research’, at the International Space Science Institute (Bern, Switzerland), organised by the European Space Agency. He gave an invited presentation on the potential contribution from tropical forest ground networks to support biomass measurements by the space-borne LiDAR and radar instruments currently being developed by ESA and NASA.

  • Alan Grainger attended the 6th International Conference on Drylands, Deserts and Desertification at Ben Gurion University, and gave presentations on mapping tree cover in the world’s drylands and how to conceptualize land degradation neutrality.

  • Jon Lovett gave talks on Community Development and Environmental Justice, and Transformative Education for Economics at the Universitas Pendidikan in Bandung, Indonesia.

  • Sarah Batterman presented an invited talk "Biodiversity and ecosystem function of nitrogen fixers in tropical forests" as part of the session on "Linking terrestrial nitrogen fixation, element cycling, and biodiversity in a changing world" at the Ecological Society of America's annual meeting in Portland, Oregon.

  • Simon Lewis gave a keynote presentation at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank’s event, Policy and the Anthropocene: The politics of a non-linear world, in Church Hall, Westminster.

  • Oliver Phillips was the invited tropical forest expert at a WWF-International policy workshop on Forest Carbon Finance (WWF UK headquarters).  The workshop aimed to identify the key climate roles of tropical forests, and develop strategies to ensure the contribution of intact forests to slowing climate change is better recognised in UN policy and national planning.

  • Alan Grainger visited the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome, to attend the 3rd User Meeting of the GlobBiomass Project, funded by the European Space Agency, and to discuss future research and outreach collaboration with FAO staff.

  • Jon Lovett attended a project workshop for the SPARC biodiversity and climate change project in Cape Town and gave a lecture on ecosystem health and complex self-organising systems at the University of Stellenbosch

  • Jon Lovett attended a workshop on hybrid electricity microgrids in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania as part of his Royal Society project on renewable energy capacity building in Africa.

  • Jon Lovett gave a key note presentation on 'Moral Economy' in the “Rethinking Sustainability from an Islamic Perspective Transforming Economy and Societies” Conference in Bandung.

  • Rob Pheasant delivered an invited paper in the ‘Sound and Vibration in Urban Environments Structured Session of the 24th International Congress on Sound and Vibration in London, titled ‘An investigation into the annoyance of cattle grid noise’.

  • Marta Giannichi attended ATBC 2017 (Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation's annual meeting in Merida, Mexico) and won the Alwyn Gentry award for best poster presentation.

  • Sarah Batterman participated in the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation's annual meeting in Merida, Mexico, July 10-12, and gave an invited talk on "Capturing the function of nitrogen fixation in the tropical forest carbon sink" in the special symposium, "Modeling tropical forest dynamics and element cycles in an era of global change."
  • A successful workshop to support small-scale indigenous and other rural seed collectors in the Xingu region has just been completed, as part of our effort to provide practical advice in acquiring Amazon tree seeds from useful species, improving seed viability, and exchanging seeds among communities. The workshop was led by dynamic collaborator Profa. Beatriz Marimon (UNEMAT). ISA's website reports on the collaboration.

  • A new EGC Newton Fund British Council Institutional Links project has kicked off in Brazil. RAINFOR, Oliver PhillipsRoel Brienen and Sarah Batterman are collaborating with Rede de Sementes do Xingu (RSX), Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), community/environment-focused NGOs in Brazil.
  • Tim Baker is part of a team awarded a new NERC grant for the project ‘Carbon storage in Amazonian peatlands: distribution and dynamics’, led by Ian Lawson (St Andrews).
  • Further coverage of the pan-tropical analyses of tropical forest diversity and carbon storage which Martin Sullivan and our group recently led. The original paper can be found here. Though biodiversity and carbon storage have been linked in past forest research, our study using Amazon, Congo and Borneo data found no consistent relationship.
  • Martin SullivanOliver Phillips, and Simon Lewis wrote an invited piece for the Conversation on African rainforests, why they are different and in need of protection.  This follow from our article in January in Nature Scientific Reports in which we analysed how tropical forest carbon and biodiversity co-vary locally, regionally, and pantropical. Understanding this relationship is crucial, given that protecting carbon and conserving species are the two major global challenges for tropical conservation.

  • Sarah Batterman visited the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama and gave a talk entitled "Resolving the role of the nitrogen fixation strategy in the tropical carbon cycle" at the Center for Tropical Forest Science's forest ecology meeting on 6 June.

  • Jon Lovett helped to run a training course in bioenergy at Makerere University, Uganda 26-30 June as part of his Royal Society Renewable Energy Capacity Building project.

  • Alan Grainger gave interviews on the BBC World Service (11 May) and German Public Radio (12 May) to publicize the paper he has co-authored (with Nikee Groot and others) on measuring the global area of dry forest, and which is the cover story in this week's issue of Science.

  • Alan Grainger visited Bonn on 27-28 April to attend the latest meeting of the Science-Policy Interface of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification.

  • 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.

  • 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. 

  • 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.