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School of Geography

Joana Melo Joana Melo

Contact details

School of Geography
University of Leeds
University Road
Leeds LS2 9JT   UK



Project title

Landscape-planning and tropical forest management in the context of international action on climate change

Project overview

The important role of forests and landscapes in addressing climate change was recently reaffirmed by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in the Paris Agreement with the reference to net greenhouse gas neutrality in its long-term goal, and the inclusion of REDD+ as a mitigation mechanism. Tropical forests are valuable carbon sinks and are also a critical component of Earth’s ecosystem services. However, rising global population and demand for food, fuel, and fibre is increasingly leading to the overall depletion of these natural resources. In the climate change policy arena, forest-mitigation actions are strategic while the world is phasing out fossil fuel use and engages in a transformative change of the global economy. Accordingly, the climate action plans (INDCs) submitted by tropical countries include reduced deforestation, restoration, conservation of standing forests, and “climate-smart” agriculture.

Simultaneously to the efforts of curbing climate change, the number of political commitments aiming to halt the loss of biodiversity and targeting sustainable development, including the provision of water, food and energy as the core of human needs, has also been increasing in view of the growing pressures to tropical forests and associated depletion of the services they provide. Consequently, when planning for mitigation solutions, it is important to consider all these priorities through a landscape planning approach, and prevent the undesirable outcomes that might arise from the creation of protected areas as “carbon fortresses” or from focusing only on carbon in mitigation actions. Considering all these priorities, it is important to reflect on how to mainstream ecosystem services provisioning and sustainable development into climate change policy and actions, including in the land use climate change contributions (NDCs) planning of tropical countries.


This research will investigate how countries can retain as much tropical forests and the services they provide as possible in the context of mitigation and adaptation to climate change planning. Specifically, investigate how different land use and land management options affect the provisioning of multiple ecosystems services; and explore modelling approaches to understand how agents’ behaviour in socio-ecological systems influence the successful implementation of conservation and mitigation programs. The analyses developed by this research should provide a better guidance for the design of mitigation and adaptation plans in tropical forests and support landscape-planning on a subnational to national level.


Research Affiliations


NERC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) 2015 studentship

Conferences/training courses attended

2016 European Space Agency Living Planet Symposium, Prague (Czech Republic), 9-13 May 2016
COP 21 - Participation at the twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Paris, December 2015, as part of the Tropical Forest Group ( Observer delegation.
Amazon Summer School, 21 July - 6 August 2014, The Amazonas Sustainable Foundation (FAS)
COP 19 - Participation at the nineteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC in Warsaw, November 2013, as part of the delegation of Guinea-Bissau.
Specialized Certificate in Terrestrial Carbon Accounting (145 hours of study) at the University of California, San Diego Extension (Letter grade: A), 2013.


Terrestrial Carbon Accounting Scholarship from World Wildlife Fund for Nature and UC San Diego Extension in the amount of $6,250 USD (2013)

Best student of the Master in Forestry and Natural Resources. School of Agriculture, Technical University of Lisbon. Academic year 2009/2010

Short Curriculum Vitae

Click here for Joana's Short CV.


de Faria, M.L.; Ferreira, P.M.; Melo, J.B.; Vasconcelos, M.J.   A Social Assessment of Forest Degradation in the “Cacheu Mangroves Natural Park”, Guinea-Bissau. Forests 2014, 5, 3327-3343.

Vasconcelos M. J. P., Cabral A. I. R., Melo J.B., Pearson T. R.H., Pereira, H., Yundelman, T., Cassamá, V. Can Blue Carbon contribute for clean development in West-Africa? The case of Guinea-Bissau. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 2014. DOI 10.1007/s11027-014-9551-x

Carreiras, J.M.B., Melo, J.B., & Vasconcelos, M.J. Estimating the above-ground biomass in miombo savanna woodlands (Mozambique, East Africa) using L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar data. Remote Sensing 2013, 5, 1524-1548.


Melo, J.B., Vasconcelos, M.J., Pearson, T.R.H., Carreiras, J.M.B., Cassamá, V., Ziv, G. (2016) Earth Observation Datasets Help Determine REDD+ Baselines of Carbon Emissions from Deforestation in Least Developed Countries. Land Posters. ESA Living Planet Symposium 2016, Prague (Czech Republic), 9-13 May 2016.

Carreiras, J.M.B., Lucas, R.M., Jones, J., Melo, J.B., Arai, E., Cassol, H., Pereira, V., & Shimabukuro, Y.E. (2015). REGROWTH: The impact of land use history on the biomass accumulation and biodiversity recovery of secondary forests in the Brazilian Amazon. 1st BIOMASS Science Workshop, ESA-ESRIN, Frascati (Italy), 27-30 January 2015.

Silva, S., Ingalalli, V., Vinga, S., Carreiras, J.M.B., Melo, J.B., Castelli, M., Vanneschi, L., Gonçalves, I., & Caldas, J. Prediction of Forest Aboveground Biomass: An Exercise on Avoiding Overfitting. EvoApplications'13 Proceedings of the 16th European conference on Applications of Evolutionary Computation (pp. 407-417). Vienna, Austria, 3-5 April 2013.

Carreiras, J.M.B., Melo, J.B., Lucas, R.M., & Shimabukuro, Y.E. (2012). Assessing regrowth and deforestation processes in western Amazonia (Rondônia, Brazil) using high frequency time series of high spatial resolution remote sensing data. SPIE Remote Sensing 2012, Edinburgh, UK, 24-27 September 2012.

Carreiras, J.M.B., & Melo, J.B. (2012). Modeling the distribution of aboveground biomass in Miombo ecosystems (Mozambique) using L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar data. SPIE Remote Sensing 2012, Edinburgh, UK, 24-27 September 2012.