Remote Sensing for sustainable use of seasonally dry tropical forests - Learning to live with the forest

Lead Research Organisation: University of St Andrews
Department Name: Biology

Abstract

Around the world, seasonally dry tropical forests have in the past been disregarded as marginal wastelands but are now recognised for the importance of their biodiversity and potential ecosystem services. They face critical challenges of conservation, unsustainable use leading to desertification, local poverty and migration to urban areas. In Brazil, 11% of its land area is this type of forest, called the Caatinga. There is an urgent need to provide methods by which this fragile biome can be monitored and protected, for the plants, animals and people who live there. The aim of this project is to develop a tool that can provide a new level, quality and accessibility of information for 1) biodiversity monitoring at species level and 2) an assessment of ecosystem quality, with resulting implications for land use. Quantitative maps generated by this novel technology can be used to optimise resources and underpin policy and forest management methods. This project will generate technological innovation by integrating high resolution remote sensing (hyperspectral imaging from drones using Rutherford Appleton Laboratory camera systems) with ground-based measurement on the ground (including plant spectral profiles and LIDAR). One way in which it will be tested will be examination of effects of various levels of cattle grazing upon the forest, as a widespread human/environment interaction. To achieve its aims, the project team is interdisciplinary and international, with research partners from the UK and Brazil. The project will also involve Brazilian stakeholders from federal and state level ministries, agencies and advisory groups, as well as NGOs and other groups responsible for communities and for policymaking. By seeking their specific needs for affordable, practical technology at the start of the project, and by facilitating their planning for uptake of the technology by the end of the project, the project will seek to maximise its impact in Brazil. The technology will also have broader relevance to other seasonal dry forests and indeed other threatened, inaccessible ecosystems around the globe. Thus, through the technological innovation and deliberate engagement of stakeholders, the project will address the UN Sustainable Development Goal 15: 'Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss'.

Publications

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Saunaluoma S (2020) Patterned Villagescapes and Road Networks in Ancient Southwestern Amazonia in Latin American Antiquity

 
Description STFC Impact Acceleration Award. "Policy Toolkit Workshop: Remote Sensing for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Inventory."
Amount £20,330 (GBP)
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2020 
End 03/2022
 
Description University of St Andrews SFC GCRF Scottish Funding Council Global Challenges Research Fund. "Remote Sensing for sustainable use of seasonally dry tropical forests." [Sep 2019 - Jun 2020]
Amount £30,372 (GBP)
Organisation Government of Scotland 
Department Scottish Funding Council
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 08/2019 
End 06/2020
 
Description COP26 UN Innovations Hub: Measuring biodiversity as Nature's C storage to inform future initiatives 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 11 November 2021
Thomas Meagher co-organised and chaired this panel session at COP26. The primary organiser was Justin Moat, RBG Kew.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://impact.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk/nature-based-contributions-to-carbon-storage/
 
Description STFC IAA Stakeholder Engagement Workshop: Integration of novel remote sensing technology into biodiversity policy and management 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 18-22 March 2021
Jointly organised with CNPq SINBIOSE, Brazil
Integration of novel remote sensing technology into biodiversity policy and management,
A workshop developing guidance to enhance utility of novel technology characterising biodiversity in support of policy and management
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
 
Description Stakeholder Engagement Meetings - Instituto de Ciências do Mar (Labomar), Universidade Federal do Ceará, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Ceara notes - 24-27 May 2019
Tom Meagher and Marcelo Moro
Meeting 1
Antônio Geraldo Ferreira (http://buscatextual.cnpq.br/buscatextual/visualizacv.do?id=K4767964J5). Remote sensing using Sentinal satellite data, emphasis on mangroves, potential collaboration
Meeting 2
Rozane Valente Marins (http://buscatextual.cnpq.br/buscatextual/visualizacv.do?id=K4780296A5) Geochemistry, works on monitoring metals in oceanic water, including mercury. She and another female graduate student (both self-identified as mulheres de ciência) gave me a lab tour.
Meeting 3
Carlos Eduardo Peres Teixeira (http://buscatextual.cnpq.br/buscatextual/visualizacv.do?id=K4778480A4). Modelling of currents.
Meeting 4 - Rodrigo Maggioni (http://lattes.cnpq.br/7591395267604686) - evolutionary genetics and phylogenetics, including genetic studies of lobster populations north and south of the Amazon outflow showing that they somehow make it across that barrier and have some degree of genetic exchange
Meeting 5 - Luiz Drude de Lacerda, FUNCAP (https://www.funcap.ce.gov.br/) Science Director. We had an extensive discussion about FUNCAP and its potential to fund mobility for students and staff working on our project or related spinoffs. He was very enthusiastic and very specific about opportunities for scientific exchange.
Meeting 6 - Director Maria Ozilea Bezerra Menezes. Very brief introduction during which she suggested that we should try to get a meeting with the Rector. She went on to arrange a meeting for later in the day.
Lunch
Meeting 7 - three students who work with Marcelo, all with ambitions for postgraduate study. Only one (female) spoke English.
Francisco Vladimir - invasive species, mapping distribution of nature reserves in Ceará, undergrad
Laymara Sampaio - urban landscapes, undergrad
Mário Sérgio Duarte Branco - biologist of Labomar
Meeting 8 - went to the Department of the Environment with two students accompanying (Francisco Vladimir and Laymara Sampaio) for a meeting at 16:00 with the Secretary of the Environment, Artur Bruno. Photo op with professional photographer. The meeting was also attended by local representatives of ICMBio (Luis Carlos ??) (http://www.icmbio.gov.br/portal/) and IBAMA (Victor Quaresma) (https://www.ibama.gov.br/), Renan Guerra (SEMA). I explained our project (in Portuguese) and this was followed by a discussion around various issues in the Caatinga, especially desertification and how our results might inform management practice to address this problem. We also discussed scales of observation and land-use patterns. It was noted that at least one Federal dataset that had been important for this was no longer accessible.
Meeting 9 - went to a meeting with the Rector, Prof Henry de Holanda Campos, attended as well by Maria Ozilea Bezerra Menezes. Photo op with professional photographer. We outlined our project to the Rector, and he discussed a number of programmes at Ceará that might effectively engage with it, including a new initiative involving microsatellites. He also said that he was very interested in work that had social relevance, and I told him that was an important part of our initiative, explaining the aspiration to do environmental work that was solution oriented rather than just identifying problems. There was strong resonance! Indeed, this meeting was immediately reported through the University as a news item - http://www.ufc.br/noticias/12994-ufc-e-universidade-escocesa-discutem-pesquisas-conjuntas-na-area-ambiental
Ceará notes - 25 May 2019
We visited 3 of 5 exclosure plots that are a focus of our investigation. These are located on various farms in the vicinity of Irauçuba, a part of the Caatinga that is undergoing desertification. These sites are all surrounded by open meadow with sparse tree cover; launching and landing of UAVs will be no problem whatsoever. We drove on from there to beyond Sobral (site of work on the general theory of relativity) to spend the night.
Ceará notes - 26 May 2019
We stopped in Sobral to see an open air exhibit celebrating the 100th anniversary of empirical work that took place there on the general theory of relativity.
Our main purpose of the day was to visit a private reserve, RPPN Mãe-da-Lua, http://www.mae-da-lua.org/port/mdl_presentation.html, owned and maintained by Hermann Redies. This is a patch of 800ha that is protected (stakeholders.
There is an association called Associação Asa Branca, that is a network of owners of RPPNs
https://www1.folha.uol.com.br/empreendedorsocial/finalistas/2009-rodrigo-castro-associacao-caatinga-asa-branca-e-alianca-da-caatinga.shtml
Hermann and other such owners of private reserves are important stakeholders for our project, and Hermann is keen to see some work done on his reserve. We are considering using his reserve as a study site example of relatively undisturbed Caatinga). If we do a survey of this site, launching and landing will be from a nearby dirt road as the reserve itself has a fairly complete forest cover.
Ceará notes - 27 May 2019
Meeting at Fundacão Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (FUNCEME) http://www.funceme.br/
Francisco das Chagas Vasconcelos Júnior (juniorphy@gmail.com) was our host for the visit. Júnior is a physicist on secondment from UFC
Our first discussion was with Manuel Rodrigues de Freitas Filho (manuelrff@gmail.com), remote sensing specialist, Departamento de Recursos Hídricos e Meio Ambiente. Manuel studies geographic distribution of desertification and anthropogenic effects in the Caatinga. He provided a detailed summary of the condition of the Caatinga as inferred from satellite data and also gave us a series of hard copy books and atlases of different features of the Caatinga. He also sent through some powerpoint slides of various vegetation and human use maps after our meeting.
Our second discussion as with Raul Fritz Bechtel Teixeira (fritz@funceme.br), head of Weather Forecast, Meteorological modelling lab, Department of Meteorology. This department monitors and projects climatic variation, with predictive modelling for three months into the future.
Overall, there was strong resonance between our project and their efforts to model vegetation responses to climatic variation over time, and in particular with regard to anticipating and ameliorating desertification.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Stakeholder engagement visit: Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (Funceme), Brazil 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Visit to Fundação Cearense de Meteorologia e Recursos Hídricos (Funceme) to explore mutual interest in evidence-drive policy to mitigate desertification in the Caatinga region of Brazil. 23 January 2020
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description UKRI Climate adaptation and resilience online events series 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact 3 June 2021
Online meeting organised by UKRI to highlight international research topics related to climate change in advance of COP26
Thomas Meagher, plenary speaker, talk entitled 'Collaboration across disciplines and countries: Investigating drivers of biodiversity change'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.ukri.org/our-work/responding-to-climate-change/ukri-towards-cop26/climate-adaptation-and...