Research led by the School of Geography at the University of Leeds has
enabled, for the first time, the use of on-the-ground observations to
evaluate directly the role of tropical forests in the global carbon cycle
and to assess their sensitivity to change. Findings from the research have
had a significant impact on international debates on the future trajectory
of climate change and appropriate policy responses, and are influencing
national-scale efforts across the tropics to manage forests in the face of
climate change and to reduce carbon emissions resulting from deforestation
[D, E, G, H, J]. The success of this Leeds-led initiative has been
achieved through the extensive network of scientists involved in this
global forest observatory: more than 250 scientists from over 50
institutions across more than 30 countries are now involved.
Taxonomy is of key relevance to the environment, agriculture, food
production, and human health. However, describing all living organisms is
such a daunting task that it calls for new approaches. A DNA-based system
for species identification, called 'DNA Barcoding', is one such solution.
Imperial researchers identified DNA barcodes for plants in 2008, which
have since had impacts on the environment, health and welfare and in
commerce. The plant DNA barcodes have been endorsed by the Consortium for
the Barcoding of Life and have led to multiple applications ranging from
facilitating biodiversity inventories, helping authentication of material
(herbal medicine) for trade control in Malaysia, South Africa, India and
Nigeria, and combating invasive species and smuggling in Africa.
Research on the status, distribution and ecology of sea turtles at the
University of Exeter has
driven national and international conservation policy, engaged millions of
people worldwide and
raised substantial funding for conservation. Governments including the UK,
Cyprus and Gabon have used this research in making legislation and
management decisions. Development of open-access animal tracking tools has
facilitated a global
network of over 135 countries, with more than 300 projects tracking
thousands of animals from 118
species. The ability to adopt tracked animals online has attracted
millions of visitors and raised
funding for conservation projects world-wide.
Work by University of Stirling staff has contributed directly to improved
wildlife resource management in the Central African region. Innovative
research into the status and trends of key wildlife populations,
ecological impacts, resource harvests and trade, drivers of resource use
and assessing management success have contributed directly to new thinking
on the issue, revisions of laws and policy and to success in attracting
foreign aid for management issues. Stirling staff members now advise the
Government of Gabon on resource management policies, National Park
management and biodiversity issues.
WHO estimates that 600 million school-age children need deworming
treatment and preventive intervention.
The University of Manchester (UoM) Immunology Group delivered an
educational programme on the immune response and biology of parasitic worm
infections in areas where worm infections are most prevalent, including
Uganda and Pakistan, and with UK immigrant communities.
International benefits include health worker and educator training, which
is critical for improving the understanding of worm infection and
distribution of health education messages to endemic communities.
Nationwide engagement activities provided immigrant communities and school
pupils with improved awareness of global health issues and a greater
understanding of immunology, and have inspired some participants to pursue
careers in science.
The Zambian Copperbelt is the largest known repository of copper on
Earth. Research at the
University of Southampton has transformed the exploration landscape in the
region, providing the
world's mining companies with new opportunities for mineral exploration in
Zambia and other
sedimentary basins in Africa. This inward investment has contributed to
rapid economic growth in
Zambia and boosted local employment. Southampton's research model has
contributed to the
discovery of two world class copper deposits, impacted on the earnings of
companies, as well as ensuring a flow of highly skilled geologists from
academia to industry.
Impacts: I) Economic benefits derived from carbon credit and
land-use schemes in sub-Saharan Africa. II) Multi-national developments in
public-policy related to Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Forest
Degradation (REDD). III) Recommendation for launch by the European Space
Agency (March 2013) of the first ever forest-specific monitoring mission.
Significance and reach: Public policy developments have occurred
over the period 2011 - June 2013 in Malawi, Mozambique and Gabon.
Increases of more than 20% in the level of rural employment pre and post
2008 have been documented for one project in Mozambique.
Underpinned by: Research into quantifying tropical forest biomass
stocks and their degradation, undertaken at the University of Edinburgh
Dr Jerome Lewis's research defining how to implement free, prior and
informed consent has led to effective and equitable relations between
indigenous forest people and FSC-certified forestry companies operating in
the Congo Basin (over 4 million ha). It enabled forest people to monitor
illegal logging and improve forest governance and has been adopted by
forestry organisations in the region. It was instrumental in setting up
the Centre d'Excellence Social which recruits students from the region to
train a new generation of forest managers with the skills required to put
the newly defined social principles into practice, as well as Radio Biso
na Biso, a community radio station which disseminates indigenous views on
local issues, logging and conservation.
Since 2005 there has been a surge of interest in reducing tropical
deforestation as a means of mitigating global climate change, as well as
enhancing the protection of tropical biodiversity and contributing to
sustainable rural development. Ways of achieving this include the REDD+
(Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation) within the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNCCC), and also non-governmental
("voluntary") forest carbon sequestration projects being established
across the tropics. The Ecosystems Group, led by Malhi, in the Oxford
School of Geography and the Environment, has been actively engaged in
natural science and policy/governance research directions, all of which
have had impacts on both REDD+ and voluntary forest carbon sequestration
projects. The group's natural science research has developed scientific
methodologies for measuring tropical forest biomass, through in situ plots
and satellite imagery, and they have been actively involved in
establishing pilot REDD+ projects in several countries. On the policy and
governance side, the Forest Governance Group, created in 2009, has played
a key role in establishing global databases on the effectiveness of
protected areas in conserving forests, provided international comparative
analyses of forest policies outside protected areas, and actively engaged
in global, regional and local REDD+ policy-making fora.