Keynotes


Voitech Novotny

Department of Ecology and Conservation Biology, Czech Academy of Sciences, Czech Republic

Web

http://www.entu.cas.cz/png/cv-novotny-vojtech-lab.html

I have a PhD in Ecology from the Czech Academy of Sciences. In the Czech Republic, I am directing the Centre for Tropical Biology, a research consortium of three institutions (the Czech Academy of Sciences, the University of South Bohemia, and the Charles University), active throughout the tropics. In Papua New Guinea, I co-founded and have been directing the New Guinea Binatang Research Center, a research organization active also in rainforest conservation and training of postgraduate students.

I am a tropical biologist interested in the ecology of rainforests, particularly their food webs. My research, increasingly using field-based experiments, focuses on ecological mechanisms of species coexistence of rainforest plants and animals and on ecological drivers of biodiversity along succession, latitudinal and altitudinal gradients in forest ecosystems. I am also interested in the development of ecological research capacity, from paraecologists to postgraduate students, in tropical countries and in the conservation of tropical forests, particularly with indigenous communities. For the past 20 years I have been dividing my time equally between Europe and Papua New Guinea, spending it on scientific, conservation and science policy issues, facilitating interaction and understanding between extra-tropical and equatorial scientists.

Keynote title

Conservation of biological and cultural diversity in lowland rainforests of Papua New Guinea by tribal societies

Abstract ...
Papua New Guinea (PNG), where indigenous rainforest tribes control 97% of land and with it also 5% of the terrestrial biodiversity and 15% of linguistic diversity of the planet, represents an extraordinarily important model for the potential of indigenous cultures to become guardians of biological and cultural diversity in their environment. The attempts at rainforest conservation on indigenous lands have been largely unsuccessful in PNG, mostly because they have been based on misleading assumptions about the developmental aspirations of indigenous cultures. Here we review 20 years of conservation activities in Papua New Guinea, provide examples of success and failure, and chart promising approaches that could combine diversity conservation, research and economic development in the future.

David F.R.P. Burslem

School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK

Web

http://www.sages.ac.uk/people/prof-david-burslem/

Professor David Burslem is tropical forest ecologist and biodiversity specialist with 25 years' experience working on Southeast Asian tropical forests. He is currently Professor of Forest Ecology and Diversity and Keeper of the Cruickshank Botanic Gardens at the University of Aberdeen, UK. His research group investigates the origin, maintenance, description and conservation of tropical forest biodiversity. There has been a recent focus on monitoring effects of land-use change on biodiversity and biogeochemical cycling in Sabah, where his group has characterised tree species composition and functional trait diversity along gradients of logging disturbance and soil chemistry. He is currently Principal Investigator for a new 50-ha forest dynamics plot at Danum Valley, Sabah, which is part of a worldwide network of plots coordinated by the Smithsonian Institution.

Keynote title

Tree species and functional diversity across heterogeneous tropical forest landscapes

Abstract ...
Tree species and functional diversity respond to combined effects of abiotic drivers and human-induced disturbance. However the high diversity of these communities and the complexity of responses to multiple environmental variables pose challenges for characterising these patterns and their consequences. Traditional networks of distributed plots capture important elements of community structure at intermediate spatial scales, but are poorly suited to detecting mechanistic or functional responses at very small or large scales. Here I present recent studies in Borneo that address the complexities of co-variation among environmental variation and tree community structure and functional diversity using spatially resolved field measurements and remote sensing. At fine scales, tree distributions, community structure and key functional traits are driven by spatial variation in soil chemistry and hydrology, which co-vary with parent material and topography. These responses define repeatable patterns in the emergent properties of communities and ecosystems across landscapes. A key element of this response reflects contrasting mechanisms of nutrient acquisition among dominant species and families possessing different mycorrhizal associations. Selective logging initially disrupts the mechanisms that generate these spatial patterns and triggers recruitment of a community with high values of functional traits for carbon capture and growth. However, rapid recovery combined with heterogeneity in disturbance impacts enhance species and functional diversity in logged forests, leading to significant overlap of these metrics on 1-ha plots of old-growth and logged forests within a decade of logging, even when community composition is highly distinct. Although disturbance is the primary driver of trait variation in logged forest, soil chemistry explains an independent axis of functional diversity linked to leaf size and nutrient concentrations, which hints at the dominant relationships detected in old-growth forests. These studies highlight the multi-dimensionality and context-dependency of the link between environmental variation and species and functional diversity, requiring highly resolved data capture across spatial scales and gradients of disturbance impact.

Yit Arn Teh

School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen, UK

Web

https://www.abdn.ac.uk/sbs/people/profiles/yateh

Yit Arn Teh is Reader in Biogeochemistry in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Aberdeen. His research explores carbon, nitrogen and trace gas dynamics in terrestrial ecosystems, with a specific focus on tropical forests, wetlands and managed environments. He currently leads major research initiatives in Malaysian Borneo (i.e. Sabah, Sarawak) investigating the effects of forest degradation and land-use change on biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, carbon storage and greenhouse gas flux. Other active projects include research on methane dynamics in papyrus wetlands in Southern Africa (i.e. Uganda, Botswana) and the role of water management in mitigating the environmental impacts of rice. In addition to enhancing our process-based understanding of human-modified environments, his research aims to engage with policymakers and stakeholders in order to develop more sustainable land management practices that minimize negative environmental impacts and mitigate against climate change.

Keynote title

Synergistic effects of land-use, functional diversity and soil properties on ecosystem processes in lowland tropical forests

Abstract ...
Land-use change in the lowland tropics is irrevocably altering biodiversity, and transforming ecosystem structure and function. However, even though we have an emerging understanding of how land-use change independently influences functional diversity, soils or biogeochemistry, we have a poorer grasp of how these factors interact to modulate ecosystem structure and function. Here we report on findings from landscape-scale manipulation experiments conducted in northern Borneo (i.e. Sabah, Sarawak) that investigated the role of land-use change, functional diversity and soils in regulating C and N dynamics in lowland tropical forests. These experiments encompassed a representative range of soils (e.g. acrisols, histosols) and land-uses (e.g. old-growth, secondary forest, oil palm) that are common throughout insular Southeast Asia. Stocks and fluxes of C and N were quantified at multiple spatial and temporal scales using data assimilation, process-based modelling, remote sensing, eddy covariance, intensive carbon plots and soil flux measurements. The functional diversity of the plant, microbial and invertebrate communities across different soils and land-uses were quantified through field surveys that combined ecological, physiological and molecular sampling techniques. Several key ecosystem processes, such as net primary productivity (NPP), were comparable among land-uses. Other processes, such ecosystem respiration or C sequestration, were altered due to changes in biogeochemistry and environmental conditions. Ecosystem responses to disturbance were determined and constrained by a mixture of the functional traits of the biotic community and soil properties, with evidence of both positive and negative feedback effects in operation. Changes in the functional traits of the plant community were linked to shifts in the structure and function of the heterotrophic community, implying a high level of top-down control by primary producers, with knock-on effects for ecosystem processes. However, we also found evidence for strong bottom-up controls on ecosystem structure and function; e.g. termites appeared to minimize the effects of drought on seedlings, soil moisture and decomposition. Data assimilation appeared effective in extrapolating our ecosystem-level measurements to the region.

Lian Pin Koh

Principal (Vice President) of Science Partnership and Innovation at Conservation International, USA

Web

http://lianpinkoh.com

Lian Pin is Principal (Vice President) of Science Partnership and Innovation at Conservation International, USA. He is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Adelaide, Australia. His research focuses on developing the Science and Science-based decision support tools to help reconcile society’s growing consumptive needs with environmental protection. Lian Pin has published over 110 peer-reviewed articles in journals, including Nature and Science. His research has received over 12,000 citations. Lian Pin is also a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, TED speaker and Founder of ConservationDrones.org.

Keynote title

Promises and pitfalls of conservation drones

Abstract ...
Low-cost drones are gaining popularity among ecologists as a tool for conservation research and practice. In this presentation, I will discuss a few examples of promising applications of conservation drones, as well as a few common challenges.

Daniel Murdiarso

Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR)

Web

http://www.cifor.org/scientific-staff-detail/813/daniel-murdiyarso

Currently holding a position as Principal Scientist at the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) and Professor at the Department of Geophysics and Meteorology, Bogor Agricultural University (IPB). He received his first degree in Forestry from IPB and PhD from the Department of Meteorology, University of Reading, UK.

His research works are related to land-use change and biogeochemical cycles, climate change mitigation and adaptation. He has published more than 100 articles in peer-reviewed high impact journals. He is part of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize winning IPCC as Coordinating Lead Author of several IPCC Reports.

Dr Murdiyarso served the Government of Indonesia as Deputy Minister of Environment (2001-2002), during which he was also the National Focal Point of the UNFCCC and CBD. Since 2002 Professor Murdiyarso is a member of the Indonesian Academy of Sciences.

Keynote title

Tropical peatland fires and opportunities for climate change mitigation

Abstract ...
Tropical peatlands are known to provide a number of ecosystem services including the storage of large quantity of carbon belowground. The accumulation of organic substrates over thousands of years creates these carbon-rich ecosystems that are now attractive for inclusion in climate change mitigation strategies. Peatlands cover about 3% of the earth’s land area, but store as much as one-third of all soil carbon. In Southeast Asia, mostly Indonesia where 70% of the world’s tropical peatlands reside, the emission of some 55 Pg C stored in peatlands due to deforestation and degradation is alarming. Appropriate policy responses and governance system to conserve intact peatlands and to restore degraded peatlands could potentially mitigate climate change. Recent scientific findings including emission factors and activity data may be used to reduce uncertainties in monitoring, reporting and verification of carbon accounting. The numbers could eventually be used in the refinement of the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) and accounting in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) mechanism.

Oliver Frör

Institute for Environmental Sciences, University of Koblenz-Landau, Germany

Web

http://www.env-economics.uni-landau.de

Oliver Frör has been professor of environmental economics at the University of Koblenz-Landau since 2012. Oliver Frör studied environmental sciences at the University of Bayreuth, Germany and economics at SUNY Albany, USA before receiving his PhD in economics from University of Hohenheim, Germany. He has worked in various international collaborative research projects in the fields of sustainable agriculture and resource use (China, Vietnam, Thailand, Morocco, Brazil), adaptation to the consequences of climate change in coastal regions (Germany) with a special focus on empirical approaches and methodical aspects of environmental economic valuation of ecosystem services. He is member of and locally coordinates two EU-projects in the trinational metropolitan region Upper Rhine in the field of sustainability research and adaptation to climate change. At the university, he coordinates the international M.Sc. study program Environmental Sciences which has become a thriving interdisciplinary nucleus for socio-ecological studies and international research cooperation.

Keynote title

Conservation and society - current trends in socio-ecological valuation of ecosystem services

Abstract ...
In many regions around the globe natural habitat like e.g. lowland tropical rainforests are threatened by development and land use change. Increasing scarcity of such habitat calls for an intensification of conservation efforts. From a socio-ecological perspective these habitat fulfill essential functions for society interacting in a complex and changing way through a wide array of ecosystem services. However, conservation comes at a cost mostly in form of foregone opportunities to develop and exploit these natural resources and generate economic profits. Thus, conservation decisions should be based on reliable information on the beneficial effect of ecosystem services to society enabling decision makers to analyze the trade-offs involved. Since human-environment interactions are complex and adaptive in nature the valuation of ecosystem services should be able to account for these properties. This presentation aims at showcasing the current trends in socio-ecological valuation of ecosystem services with a focus on tropical rainforests. It will be distinguished between normative aspects of valuation as the basis for empirical valuation methods and the restrictions imposed by the conditions in the field like lack of knowledge about and understanding of ecosystem processes and their direct and indirect effects on society as well as procedural requirements of valuation methods. Using practical examples from own research in Southeast Asia as well as from literature studies the state of the art of valuing ecosystem services will be demonstrated and the usefulness for decision making in the context of conservation projects will be critically discussed. It will be shown that in real-world socio-ecological systems the focus on purely monetary valuation as usually favored by environmental economists falls short of practical necessities of decision makers. Consequently, in addition to monetary valuation approaches like contingent valuation and choice experiments a focus will be laid on approaches combining multiple measurement units (monetary, non-monetary, qualitative) in a multi-criteria setting. The presentation will identify the main types of research gaps in the empirical application of ecosystem service valuation and contrast those to the typical requirements imposed by decision makers in practice.

Jane Hill

Department of Biology, University of York, UK

Web

http://www-users.york.ac.uk/~jkh6/index.htm

Jane Hill is a professor of ecology in the Department of Biology, University of York, UK. Jane’s research examines the impacts of climate change and habitat loss on biodiversity. Previously extensive tracts of natural habitats have been degraded by human activities, and in SE Asia, remaining patches of tropical rainforest are isolated within oil-palm dominated landscapes. The focus of Jane’s research is to examine the conservation value of forest fragments (e.g. for supporting biodiversity and maintaining connectivity for range-shifting species), and testing the impacts of RSPO environmental sustainability standards for oil palm cultivation. Jane is a trustee of the SE Asia Rainforest Research Partnership (SEARRP), and a trustee and member of Council of the British Ecological Society (BES). She received a Marsh/ZSL Award for Conservation Biology in 2011 and is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society. Jane is involved in promoting women in science and led the York Biology Department to an Athena SWAN Gold Award in 2014.

Keynote title

Conserving biodiversity in tropical agricultural landscapes

Abstract ...
Expansion of agriculture to feed a growing human population has resulted in the loss and fragmentation of tropical rainforests. To reduce biodiversity losses in oil palm-dominated landscapes, sustainability certification schemes (i.e. RSPO) require the conservation of forest set-asides that support High Conservation Values (HCV) and/or High Carbon Stocks (HCS). I will review the research from my lab, which is examining the effectiveness of forest set-asides for maintaining biodiversity, in particular the importance of forest patch size and placement for enhancing biodiversity and forest connectivity. Most of my research examines animal diversity but I will also discuss how fragmentation affects plant diversity and evidence that regeneration is disrupted in forest remnants. Many species are shifting their distributions to track climate changes, and we are examining connectivity in SE Asia landscapes and the impacts of RSPO certification for enhancing connectivity, particularly in relation to range shifting to higher elevations. I will discuss my lab’s research that is based on field surveys and computer modelling, focusing on Sabah (Malaysian Borneo), and highlight how small forest patches can play an important role in conservation.

Rob Cramb

School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, University of Queensland, Australia

Web

https://agriculture.uq.edu.au/profile/332/rob-cramb

Rob Cramb is Professor of Agricultural Development and Deputy Head of the School of Agriculture and Food Sciences at the University of Queensland. His research centres on agricultural development, rural transformations, and natural resource management in Southeast Asia, focusing on the evolution of farming systems, land tenure arrangements, and community-based resource management in a variety of agro-ecological zones. He graduated in agricultural economics and rural sociology from the University of Melbourne, then worked in Sarawak, Malaysia, for six years with the Department of Agriculture, first as a volunteer with Australian Volunteers International and then as a consultant for a World Bank agricultural extension project. He subsequently undertook PhD studies at Monash University in development economics and Southeast Asian studies, returning to Sarawak for fieldwork on the evolution of swidden agricultural systems and customary land tenure. Since taking up a position at the University of Queensland, he has continued to lead research on agricultural development and natural resource management in Southeast Asia in collaboration with colleagues in the social and natural sciences. Most recently he has been involved in assessing the impacts on customary landholders and small-scale farmers of the rapid expansion of oil palm plantations in Malaysia and Indonesia, resulting in the publication with John McCarthy of The Oil Palm Complex: Smallholders, Agribusiness and the State in Indonesia and Malaysia.

Keynote title

Human interaction with the rainforests of Sarawak
Abstract ...
Humans have been interacting with the rainforests of Sarawak in northeast Borneo for 50,000 years. The modes of interaction have been foraging, vegeculture, swidden agriculture, commercial smallholdings, industrial logging, and commercial plantations, with successively greater impacts on the forest ecosystem. The dominant modes have changed over time as humans adapted to the rainforest environment, as new technologies and cultigens were brought into the region through migration and trade, as some groups spread and gained dominance over others, and as the modern Sarawak state asserted increasing control over the disposition of the forest. Each mode of interaction has involved not just a particular set of techniques but an array of rights and obligations governing access to and management of the forest. In this paper I review this long-term interaction with the forest, focusing on lower-impact, smaller-scale modes. I argue that these modes of interaction, while still impacting on the rainforest, help to minimise the trade-off between conservation and development goals.

Alin Halimatussadiah

Institute for Economic and Social Research, Department of Economics, Universitas Indonesia

Web

https://www.lpem.org

Alin Halimatussadiah is currently active as the assistant professor at the Department of Economics, Universitas Indonesia since 2007 and act as the head of environmental economics research group at the Institute for Economic and Social Research (LPEM), Universitas Indonesia. Alin received PhD in economics at Universitas Indonesia in 2013 with the field of environmental economics. Her research interest includes green growth planning, sustainable resource use, sustainable finance and waste management with the application of range of method such as economic valuation, cost-benefit analysis, and behavioural economics/experimental method. Outside university, taking a role as the vice director, she is actively involved at the Economy and Environmental Institute Indonesia (EEII), a partner of the Economy and Environment Partnership for Southeast Asia (EEPSEA).

Keynote title

Human pressure on lowland ecosystems: what can be done
Abstract ...
Looking at their economic potential, lowland ecosystems are prone with degradation as the result of human activity in exploiting land-based resource. Aside of that, the government may create incentive that may lead to unintended consequences such as land use change of essential ecosystem, e.g. subsidy to palm oil sector. Understanding what kinds of human (community, firm, government) interventions take in place in lowland and which one drive ecosystem degradation in lowland is important as the basis of constructing sustainable spatial development planning and identifying what kind of fiscal and other regulatory incentive that encourage sustainable lowland management. This presentation will examine risky sectors that most likely encourage land use change and ecosystem degradation in lowland area in Indonesia, and identify what kind of regulatory framework that may lead to sustainable lowland management.