Improving tropical forest resilience to human-climate pressures – learning from the past to guide the future (FOREPAST)

Alexander Koch

Alexander Koch is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Hong Kong where he researches how human-induced changes of the land surface influence the Earth System with the help of models of varying complexity. He is particularly interested in the effects of large-scale forest regrowth on past, present, and future climate and carbon cycle. Alexander gained a PhD at University College London at the Department of Geography, funded by the NERC-London Doctoral Training Partnership. Prior to that he worked at the UK Centre of Fisheries and Aquaculture Science after obtaining an MSc from King’s College London and a BSc in Physical Geography from the Philipps-University, Marburg, Germany.Alexander has previously been involved in setting-up and co-organizing the Past Global Changes (PAGES) Early Career Network (PAGES-ECN).

Charlotte Wheeler

Charlotte’s research is focused in the tropics and she is particularly interested in understanding the impacts of tropical forest loss on climate change and the potential of large-scale forest restoration for climate change mitigation. She is specifically interested in understanding subtle changes in forest cover linked to forest degradation, including processes such as; selective logging, small scale conversion of forests for subsistence agriculture, and sub-canopy forest clearance for commercial agriculture (E.g. shade grown Cocoa). Such processes are much harder to map than deforestation and subsequently the extent, rate and drivers of forest degradation are poorly understood. Charlotte is working on developing improved methods for mapping forest degradation and quantifying the associated carbon losses, with the aim of improving our understanding of carbon emission from forest degradation.Charlotte is also very interested in the potential of large-scale forest restoration as a climate change mitigation option. Specifically, trying to understand the potential of natural regeneration of degraded forest for both climate mitigation and ecosystem service co-benefits such as biodiversity protection. Additionally, she is interested in how agroforestry and plantation based agriculture can be integrated into restoration plans, in the face of expanding human populations with a need for increased food production, and how using such tree based crops will effect climate mitigation

Xavier Benito

Xavier is an aquatic paleoecologist motivated by fundamental and applied questions about ecological indicators, metacommunities, and environmental change. He broadly asks how the dynamics between biological communities and their physical environment change as a result of natural and anthropogenic stressors. He obtained his PhD from the University Rovira and Virgili (Spain), before starting postdoctoral positions, first at University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and currently at National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC), which is part of the University of Maryland (USA). His current research areas include: paleolimnological perspective of ecological resilience, biodiversity trends in the Holocene, socio-ecological systems of Mediterranean deltas, macroecology of diatoms, and global riverine oligotrophication trends.Xavier is currently a steering committee member of the Past Global Changes (PAGES) Early Career Network (PAGES-ECN). He is also chair of the local organising committee of the PAGES-INQUA ECR Workshop “Past Socio-Environmental Systems” (PASES2021), La Serena, Chile, 2021.

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