Ian Lawson has contributed to a blog post for the Journal of Applied Ecology on the impact of the ongoing destruction of Indonesia peatlands on the research community. With SE Asian peatlands rapidly diminishing, the importance of Amazonian and African peatlands as records of tropical environmental and ecological change is heightened. You can read the post here.
Katy Roucoux, Tom Kelly and Freddie Draper presented their research on peatlands in the Pastaza-Marañón Foreland Basin of Peru at the European Conference of Tropical Ecology. A fuller report can be found here.
PAGES C-PEAT is a new working group on the long-term history of peatlands around the globe. Drawing mainly on geological (including Holocene) perspectives, the group aims to synthesize our understanding of past change in peatland ecosystems and use that to help predict their future. Ian Lawson presented a summary of the group’s work on Pastaza-Marañón Basin peatlands at C-PEAT’s inaugural meeting at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in New Jersey. This was one of a number of papers emphasizing the vulnerability of tropical peatlands to land-use change. Mapping future threats to peatlands – and opportunities for conservation – emerged as the basis of a new theme for the working group, which will be co-led by Ian.
Ian Lawson presented a summary of the group’s work in Peru at the Congress of the International Union for Quaternary Science in Nagoya, Japan.
Two recent reports suggest that the potential threats to Amazonian peatlands from deforestation for oil palms and cacao, and gold mining and other extractive industries, are growing. The EIA published a particularly critical report last month, and MAAP also claims to have found evidence of significant deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon in its analyses of LandSat imagery. This raises the concern that the relatively unglamorous and little-known, but very carbon-dense peatlands in Loreto (Draper et al. 2014) could come under pressure if (often very badly needed) agricultural and industrial development is deflected away from terra firme forest.
Tom Kelly passed his PhD viva at the University of Leeds, with well-deserved commendations from his examiners Rob Marchant (University of York) and David Galbraith (Leeds). His supervisors (Ian Lawson, Katy Roucoux and Tim Baker) are very proud!
Tom has already led or contributed to several papers through his research, and we look forward to seeing several more emerge over the next few months.
The theme of this conference was “Resilience of tropical ecosystems – future challenges and opportunities” – very much in line with our research aims. Katy Roucoux gave a presentation on the palaeoecology of forest hollows, and presented (on Freddie’s behalf) a poster by Draper et al. summarizing our recent paper in ERL.
Ian Lawson chaired the meeting, which welcomed several new members. Katy and Ian both gave presentations of their recent work.
Lawson et al. “Improving estimates of carbon storage and flux in tropical peatlands” is now online at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11273-014-9402-2/fulltext.html. The paper was developed by members of the UK Tropical Peatlands Working Group and reflects the group’s ambition to work more closely together, using comparable research methods, in order to improve our understanding of carbon stocks and fluxes in the tropics.
Draper et al. “The distribution and amount of carbon in the largest peatland complex in Amazonia” shows, using a wide range of new field data, that peatland pole forest is the most carbon-dense type ecosystem in Amazonia, when below-ground carbon storage is taken into account. This work also revised the central estimate for carbon storage in the Pastaza-Marañón Fan to 3.14 Pg distributed across 35,600 km2 of peatland, though the uncertainties on these figures remain large. The paper is available open-access online at http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/9/12/124017. It also received coverage by the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30448519).