Vegetation Restoration on Degraded Tropical Peatlands: Opportunities and Barriers

Speaker: Laura Graham
Date: Fri, 20 Mar 2009
Venue: DBS Conference Room
Time: 10:30 – 11:30 am
Host: Dr. Mary Rose Cervantes Posa

Abstract:
Over 7 million hectares of Indonesia’s tropical peat swamp forest (TPSF) stand degraded, through fires, drainage, logging and conversion. After disturbance, the ecosystem becomes more susceptible to fires and flooding, leading to a downward cycle of retro-succession. Much work has gone into alleviating these barriers, however, there are subsequently a host of secondary barriers that must be overcome. These range from increased light intensity and reduced nutrients to local mistrust of government and conflicting restoration goals. These barriers cannot be predicting on a landscape-scale as they are unique to each site. However, methods can be developed to stream-line understanding the prevailing barriers and developing routes to alleviating them. In this talk, the current state of ecological restoration of tropical peatlands, specifically in Indonesia, and the gaps in the knowledge will be presented. It discusses a new study be trialed which aims to develop methodology to facilitate the development of accurate and targeted restoration action plans.

About the speaker:
I am a PhD student at the University of Leicester, studying the barriers presently facing restoration of Southeast Asia’s tropical peatlands, and how we might overcome these barriers and develop restoration action plans. I work at the Natural Laboratory of Peat Swamp Forest, led by CIMTROP. There I conduct seedling transplant trials and monitor environmental conditions under different levels of degradation. I established the Sabangau Seedling Nursery in 2005, and supervise the Tropical Peat Swamp Forest Seedling Growth-Strategy Study taking place within. I also work with the local community, working to understand their needs and desires for the degraded area, and their views on its restoration. I have worked at this research site since 2004, conducting studies in rodent and bird seed dispersal, natural regeneration, mycorrhizae, and community surveys. I did my Bachelors degree at the University of Cambridge Plant Sciences Dept.

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