First ever Green Climate Fund project cites our research

Sampling in a peatland pole forest at San Jorge, Peru

The first project to be announced by the Green Climate Fund will be based in Datem del Marañón Province, Peru.

The science case for the proposal rests in part on our recent paper, Draper et al. (2014), published in the open-access journal Environmental Research Letters. This work stemmed from the PhD research of Freddie Draper, who recently passed his viva. He was supervised by Katy Roucoux, Ian Lawson and Tim Baker (Leeds).

Our paper presented a spatially-explicit model of above- and below-ground carbon storage in the Pastaza-Marañón Foreland Basin, including – for the first time – the western part of the basin including Datem del Marañón. Our work made it clear that the province holds substantial peat deposits.

The UN-backed Green Climate Fund offers an exciting model for carbon-based conservation projects that explicitly aim to generate positive social justice and economic development outcomes. This first project involves initial funding of USD 9.11M.

New book on applied palaeoecology

Although palaeoecologists have published papers on the relevance of long-term data to conservation for over 20 years, a book that brings together examples and relates them to contemporary conservation issues for a non-technical audience is long overdue. Biodiversity Conservation & Environmental Change: Using Palaeoecology to Manage Dynamic Landscapes in the Anthropocene, by palaeoecologist Lindsey Gillson, was published by Oxford University Press earlier this year. Key arguments are developed through a series of case studies, beginning with an example that Gillson knows well: managing elephant habitat and populations in African parks and reserves, followed by chapters based around extinction and rewilding, fire management, climate change, ecosystem services and cultural landscapes. This is an accessible teaching resource, with a full reference list. A review of the book, written by Althea Davies, will be available in the forthcoming issue of Trends in Ecology & Evolution:

PhD Opportunity – Is naturalised Scots pine a threat or benefit for climate resilience?

Prestwick Carr_DSCF0028

Migration is an essential adaptive response to environmental change, but enabling population movement within cultural landscapes is a real challenge, particularly where the establishment of new species may alter habitats that are designated for their current conservation value. This PhD aims to evaluate the role that tree species growing beyond their accepted native limits play in climate change adaptation, using naturalised Scots pine communities in northern England and southern Scotland as a case study. It will use ecological, dendroecological and palaeoenvironmental methods to assess how newly-formed pine communities develop, how they compare with native and plantation pinewoods, and how they impact surrounding open habitats. Europe lags behind the New World when considering how to move beyond static native/non-native classifications as part of conservation adaptation to environmental change, and this research will provide a robust evidence-base for evaluating the role of these contentious communities in UK conservation. The project will be jointly supervised by Prof Alistair Jump (University of Stirling), Dr Rob Wilson and Dr Althea Davies (both University of St Andrews). The project is available as part of the competitively-funded IAPETUS-Doctoral Training Programme, supported by NERC. The closing date for applications is the 4th January 2016. For details, please see

New paper: tephra is reliably preserved in peat cores across a site

Tephra shard from the Eyjafjallajokull 2010 eruption“Spatial variability of tephra and carbon accumulation in a Holocene peatland” by Liz Watson et al. has just appeared in QSR. Liz is a PhD student at the University of Leeds, co-supervised by Ian Lawson. This study looked at fifteen peat cores from Fallahogy Mire, Northern Ireland, to test the extent to which records of cryptotephra from individual cores are representative of tephra distribution across the whole site. The three tephras searched for – Hekla 1947, Hekla 1845 and Hekla 1510 – were all present in 14 out of 15 cores. This should give us confidence that, on ombrotrophic, unforested mires at least, cryptotephra records are likely to be reasonably reliable even if based on a single record. On the other hand, the rate of carbon accumulation across the site turned out to be more variable than we expected, which has interesting implications for process-based studies of carbon sequestration on peatlands.