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Science and Engineering at The University of Edinburgh

School of GeoSciences

Professor Paul van Gardingen

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

[Mangove, Fiji]

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services are extremely important in contributing to human well being around the world.  The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment highlighted this link, but also demonstrated that the world's poor are most at risk from the increasing rate of loss of biodiversity and degradation of ecosystem services, one of the key Global Challenges facing the world in the 21st Century.

Paul van Gardingen's research activities are contributing to the conservation of biodiversity and maintenance of ecosystem services in the following areas:

  • Ecosystem Services and Poverty Alleviation (ESPA).  Member of the Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) for ESPA involved in the design of programme funded by DFID, NERC and ESRC as part of the wider Living With Environmental Change (LWEC) programme.

  • Darwin Initiative (Defra).  Activities in support of the Darwin Initiative involve generating evidence from research to support the UK's contribution to the CBD.  Work has included a range of monitoring and evaluation projects to develop a systematic analysis of the likely impact of projects, generating policy-relevant information.  This approach was then applied to a larger systematic analysis of the Initiatives projects on Islands, forming the basis of a thematic review presented to the CBD's Conference of Parties in Germany in 2008.  This work then formed the basis of a larger programme implemented for Defra to generate evidence from Darwin projects that would be relevant to policy and practice.  The resulting Darwin Information Project and new Darwin Initiative Website are now used extensively to provide a range of stakeholders with better access to information and evidence required to inform their decisions.

  • Forest Management.  Forests are key ecosystems that influence human well being and the health of the environment.  A number of projects have been implemented to support improved forest management and to enhance the benefits that people derive from their forest lands.  The SYMFOR project, funded under DFID's Forest Research Programme had activities in Indonesia, Brazil and Guyana.  The system developed under this project was designed to generate new knowledge from existing research on forest growth and yield to help communities, forest managers and policy makers to make better decisions about their use of declining forest resources. 

  • Forests and Carbon.  During 2009 a series of small projects commenced in Malawi implemented through three MSc projects in conjunction with the Department of Forestry and the European Commission's Malawi Forestry Programme.
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