Bridging the gap between biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation
Biologist and Senior Research Associate Leonardo de Sousa Miranda of Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, is the winner of the 2023 Ramboll Foundation Award and a prize of EUR 67,000 to support his research in assessing climate and land-use change impacts and identifying priority areas for biodiversity conservation and habitat restoration in the Amazon.
A bittersweet paradigm
The state of Pará, Brazil, occupies a bittersweet paradigm. On one hand, it is a globally recognised biodiversity hotspot, hosting over 10% of the world’s birds. On the other, it is a region grappling with the adverse impacts of deforestation which are slowly eroding biological riches and species on the edge of extinction.
Crucially, this has also led to significant greenhouse gas emissions, making Pará one of the highest-emitting states in Brazil.
Supporting biodiversity conservation
The state government of Pará has launched several plans to make the region carbon-neutral, including a large-scale reforestation project.
“While the forest restoration is driven by climate change mitigation, my research has identified a unique opportunity to support biodiversity conservation in the region and enhance key ecosystem services related to forest cover, biodiversity, and water quality”
Leonardo De Sousa MirandaBiologist and Senior Research Associate, Lancaster Environment Centre
Yet, at present, there is insufficient information to include terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity within the plans.
Prioritising restoration efforts
Leonardo De Sousa Miranda’s research seeks to integrate biodiversity conservation efforts with the broader scope of Pará’s restoration project.
“My work involves creating spatial scenarios and a decision-making support tool using a combination of ecological and socio-economic data, which seeks to identify and prioritise restoration efforts that maximise positive outcomes for biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and socio-economic factors,” Leonardo explains.
Underpinning this objective is a complex tapestry of ecological and socio-economic data. Leonardo will develop spatial scenarios for the restoration project by considering species distribution and native vegetation cover, among other landscape features. These scenarios will then be ranked based on their potential impacts on biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, compliance with legal requirements and socio-economic considerations.
A global model for decision-making
Leonardo’s research methodology is as comprehensive as it is innovative, combining the ecological with the socio-economic. By considering the financial aspects of restoration and closely aligning his findings with state policy, Leonardo aims to enhance the deployment and uptake of his research outcomes.
By translating academic knowledge into practical applications, Leonardo’s research is designed to create a significant real-world impact. The decision-making support tool and database can assist various stakeholders in making informed decisions about forest restoration in the Pará region and beyond.
Importantly, Leonardo’s research has the potential to serve as a model for similar regions worldwide wrestling with biodiversity conservation challenges and climate change impacts.
To find out more about the Ramboll Foundation please visit: https://www.rambollfonden.com/
Cambridge Video Production