News - December 2015

University researcher collaborates with conservation company to help fight climate change

23 December

A UNIVERSITY of Hull researcher is helping fight climate change after developing a data analysis system to reduce carbon emissions in tropical forest nations.

Dr Tom Martin has been working with Operation Wallacea, which runs biological and conservational research projects across the world.

The company, based in Lincolnshire, also offers volunteering chances to hundreds of students each year.

The 18-month collaboration has seen Dr Martin develop a standard and robust way of determining whether a site is eligible for a United Nations (UN) grant to protect its biodiversity and carbon stocks.

The funding, called REDD+, aims to reduce the rate of deforestation through financial incentives in tropical forest nations.

The idea is to maintain forests in exchange for establishing programmes which reduce carbon emissions.

The collaboration between Dr Martin and Operation Wallacea was forged through the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Programme which helps organisations improve their productivity, performance and profitability by tapping into the knowledge, skills and expertise of universities.

To access the funding the sites must be proven to possess high biodiversity, large carbon stocks, and that they have the potential to provide sustainable livelihoods for those who live there.

Dr Martin said:

Working on the project has been an amazing experience, taking me to Indonesia for two ‘field seasons’ and giving me the opportunity to work with Operation Wallacea and the University of Hull on the development of this new monitoring and analysis model. The company will be able to use the model to access which supports the local communities it works with in reducing carbon emissions, enhancing biodiversity and promoting socio-economic development.

Now a model for assessment has been developed, it will allow the company to access funding for sites quicker.

Operation Wallacea’s Director of Operations, Alex Tozer, said:

Being able to demonstrate the value of developing new conservation management research sites in such a comprehensive and robust way will allow us to bring new sites on-stream more rapidly.  As well as being good for wildlife, the environment and the local community, this allows us to respond to the seemingly insatiable demand for volunteer places on our projects.  We also plan to develop a new consultancy operation, using the REDD+ assessment model to help other organisations secure funding for their own projects.  This is a really exciting diversification of our business.

Dr Martin worked closely with a team of academics from the University of Hull who advised on the project, including Dr. Philip Wheeler and Professor Roland Ennos from the University’s School of Biological, Biomedical & Environmental Sciences and Professor Jonathan Atkins from the Business School.

Dr Wheeler, who is now working at the Open University, said:

It has been immensely satisfying seeing how our academic expertise can be transferred into this real-world situation, and the benefits that the new methods will have not only for Operation Wallacea as a business and research organisation, but for a world grappling with the challenge of climate change. It’s remarkable how far-reaching the consequences of this 18-month project will be.

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