About Ian Lawson

Lecturer at the University of St Andrews

Tropical wetlands in a global context: PAGES C-PEAT meeting

IMG_20151012_114253371PAGES 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.

Updates on deforestation in Loreto, Perú

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.

Congratulations to Dr Tom Kelly

Tom at workTom 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.

New paper in Wetlands Ecology and Management

Lawson et al. 2014 WEMLawson 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.

New paper in Environmental Research Letters identifies the most carbon-dense ecosystem in Amazonia

Draper BBC smallDraper 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).