Report from the latest gathering of the TPWGroup

Here is a short report on the latest meeting of the UK TPWG, written by Lydia Cole.

On 30th January, Prof Sue Page and Dr Sara Thornton hosted a meeting of the UK Tropical Peatland Working Group (UK TPWG).  An assortment of researchers gathered for one day at the University of Leicester, to present their work and discuss how the group can be more effective in the realm of tropical peatland science and responsible management.  Attendees successfully navigated the UK rail network from as far as Exeter on the south coast to St Andrews on the east coast of Scotland.  The most junior member of the group had a baptism of fire as the meeting marked the first day of his PhD – well done, Abdul!

IMG-20200130-WA0005

Donna Hawthorne presenting on her palaeoecological component of the mega-CongoPeat project. (Credit: Lydia Cole.)

The day started with brief introductions from everyone present, with expertise ranging from palaeoecology to political economy, with a number of biogeochemists and modellers in the mix.  Fifteen people gave a summary of their current work in a short presentation.  The Congo Basin team started the proceedings with a lowdown on the state of knowledge on contemporary greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) from these Central African peatlands (Nick Girkin), on their development history (Donna Hawthorne) and past and present spatial patterning (George Biddulph).  The distribution of carbon across Mexico’s wetlands was then showcased (Sofie Sjogersten), followed by insights into the emissions resulting from agriculturally important (and very deep!) peatlands in Uganda (Jenny Farmer).  Several presenters gave reports on the exciting new projects they are just embarking on, e.g. TroPeaCC (Angela Gallego-Sala), or the first findings gathered after recently returning from field campaigns, e.g. the Peru peatlands crew (Anna Macphie, Adam Hastie, Charlotte Wheeler and Lydia Cole).  Katy Roucoux gave a neat overview of the multiple different projects happening in the peatlands of the Pastaza-Marañón Foreland Basin in the Peruvian Amazon, showing a diversity of studies ranging from the modelling of carbon to the mapping of livelihoods, and a variety of palaeo- and neo-ecological studies.  The pantropical circle continued on to Southeast Asia’s peatlands, where we learnt about the importance of peatland fish for rural livelihoods, biodiversity conservation and much more (Sara Thornton); about exciting, and horrifying new measurements of the GHG emissions during the initial years of oil palm plantation establishment on Sarawakian peatlands (Jon McCalmont) and the pattern of biomass accumulation of these palms on organic-rich soils (Kennedy Lewis); finishing with a round-up of potential ways of reducing GHG emissions from peatland agriculture (Yit Arn Teh), such as wise use of fertilisers.

Woman laying out fish to dry, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Photo by Sara Thornton

Sara Thornton told of the importance of fishing for rural communities living in peatland areas in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia.  (Credit: Sara Thornton.)

An engaged discussion followed each set of talks, resulting in as many unanswered questions as those we felt able to provide reasoned responses to.  Thus the UK TPWG, along with an extensive body of invaluable collaborators across the Tropics, is tasked with finding answers to these important knowledge gaps we identified (and the funding to match!).  Which wetland ecosystems of the Peruvian Amazon are peat-forming and why?  Where is the labile carbon from the peatlands of the Congo Basin disappearing to?  How can we reduce the impact of cultivating Uganda’s peatlands? And crucially, how do we work across disciplines, perhaps even interdisciplinarily, to tackle the complex challenge of tropical peatland conservation and restoration?

IMG-20200130-WA0012

Jon McCalmont thanking the many people involved in his project in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo. (Credit: Lydia Cole.)

If you have answers, questions or are interested in engaging with the group, please get in touch – uktropicalpeat@gmail.com.

 

Grants for early-career peatland scientists/practitioners

There are still several days to apply for an Allan Robertson Grant from the International Peatland Society.  These are prestigious grants (though the application is relatively brief – plenty of time to still apply!), which offer funding to support your peatland work, as well as funding for travel to/from and registration for the International Peatland Congress to be held in Tallinn, Estonia, in June of 2020.

There is a huge chance for you young members of the UK TPWG and other organisations to receive one of the 250-500€ grants if you apply within the next few days.

The main requirement is that applicants are under the age of 30, though this is somewhat flexible if a good reason is given. Both students and young employees are eligible.

Have a look at the conditions and share the information within your network: https://peatlands.org/about-us/honoursgrants/

Application deadline is already 31 January.

Join 2020’s pinnacle peatland event*: International Peatland Congress

(*this is excluding the UK TPWG meeting, obviously!)

The 16th International Peatland Congress:
Peatlands and Peat – Source of Ecosystem Services

The International Peatland Society and Estonian Peat Association invite you to submit an abstract for the 16th International Peatland Congress that will be held in June 2020 in Tallinn, Estonia.

Due to many requests, the Scientific Committee is delighted to announce the deadline extension of the Call for Abstracts for the 16th International Peatland Congress to 31 January 2020.

Important Deadlines for Abstract Submission

  • Extended deadline for Short Abstract Submission (up to 300 words): 31 January 2020
  • Notification of Abstract Acceptance: 2 March 2020
  • Deadline for Extended Abstract Submission: 15 March 2020
  • The presenting author must register by 15 March 2020 and pay the registration fee by 22 March 2020 (please note that registration is required in order to be included in the programme, and to have abstract published in the in the official Proceedings of IPC2020.

START HERE

Main Topics for Oral and Poster presentations:

Congress topics are divided into two categories: Peatland Ecosystem Services and Peatland Management.

The 27 subtopics are covered by these seven topics:

  1. PROVISIONING SERVICES
  2. REGULATING SERVICES
  3. SUPPORTING SERVICES
  4. CULTURAL AND SOCIAL SERVICES
  5. PEATLAND AND PEAT RELATED ECONOMIC SERVICES
  6. PROTECTION AND RECLAMATION OF PEATLANDS
  7. EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES AND TECHNIQUES FOR PEATLAND AND PEAT RESEARCH
CLICK FOR THE FULL LIST OF TOPICS

What is new at the #IPC2020?

PEAT-Talks • Digital posters • “Meet the expert” sessions • “Meet-a-colleague” networking breaks • Movie programme and public lectures • Photo contest

Find more information on the Congress website and 2nd Announcement of the IPC2020.

OPEN 2nd ANNOUNCEMENT

We hope you will take the advantage and be part of the international society in Tallinn to interact with peers, discuss with the experts and share your research and knowledge.

The 2nd announcement of the Congress is a perfect guide for you to see what’s new at IPC2020, to discover the topics and programme, to help submit the abstract and plan your travel.

We hope to see you as part of the IPC2020 family!

CONTACTS:

Congress Secretariat

PCO Publicon
E: ipc2020@publicon.ee
T: +372 740 4095

www.ipc2020.com

Peaty postdoc in Peru, anyone?

Brand-new Postdoctoral opportunities in Amazon peatlands research

Project title: Assessing and modeling the inputs, stability and fate of soil C in Amazon peatlands and flooded forest under changing climate

Location: based in Iquitos Peru at the collaboration of Universidad Nacional de la Amazonia Peruana (Peru) and Arizona State University (USA)

Potential start and end: January 2020-December 2021 (2 years)

Motivation and opportunity: The Amazon basin is one of the major C reserves in the world and is under multiple threats derived from anthropogenic activities. These threats are affecting one key function as C sink for the world. Amazon peatlands, carbon sequestering wetlands where the rate of accumulation exceed the rate of
decomposition, have been documenting as holding high amounts of C in the Amazon, and the Pastaza-Maranon fore basin in Peru has been so far documented as holding the most in terms of area and depth (up to 10 meters). The mechanisms of accumulation and stability of soil Carbon in the Amazon is an open and intriguing area of research since the warm conditions and fast decomposition rates in the tropics, predicted soil C accumulation to be low or limited. Yet peatlands I the Amazon have reached many
m of organic soil accumulations. We seek two postdoctoral candidates to join an application and fulfill the following roles: mechanistically evaluate the rates of C inputs and stability from different biomass components among sites with contrasting NPP, geochemistry and respiration rates leading to CH4 emissions (position 1) and develop modeling approaches to estimate rates of accumulations across a broad area (spatial modeling) and model the response of such rates under water manipulation scenarios simulating climate driven increase or decrease of rain/flood (position 2).

The team include Prof Hinsby Cadillo-Quiroz (ASU), Dr Outi Lahteenoja (ASU), Rodil Tello (UNAP), David Urquiza (UNAP) among others. Salaries are highly competitive and will be given by CONCYTEC (PERU) and World Bank program. Relocation expenses are available. Candidates must have completed their PhD no earlier than 6 years ago, and have a record of publications in desired field. Please reach Dr Cadillo hinsby@asu.edu along with a CV by Sept 18 or ASAP.

WANTED: Peatland and mangrove specialists @FAO

The FAO peatland team is opening a roster for consultancy applications on the topic below, from short- to longer-term positions in various locations and for different types and length of experiences:

Remote sensing, monitoring and/or management and sustainable livelihoods specialist – peatlands and mangroves

If interested, please see the details below, and then apply through the FAO employment portal at the latest on Wednesday 24 July, or feel free to share the vacancy announcement with your networks:

https://jobs.fao.org/careersection/fao_external/jobdetail.ftl?job=1901585&tz=GMT%2B02%3A00&tzname

If you have questions, please contact Maria Nuutinen* on maria.nuutinen@fao.org.

*Forestry Officer – Peatlands, REDD+ and National Forest Monitoring cluster, Forestry Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Skype for business & Skype: maria.pauliina.nuutinen

Office +39 06 570 53284

www.fao.org/redd/areas-of-work/national-forest-monitoring-system 

www.fao.org/in-action/micca/knowledge/peatlands-and-organic-soils

Join the Online Community on Peatlands and Climate Change: http://bit.ly/peatlands-community

***

Technical Focus

In particular, the work will focus on: Contributing to technical work related to wetland and high-carbon ecosystem (especially peatlands and mangroves) through: satellite data processing and field data analysis for monitoring, mapping, land use planning, management and/or livelihood development on peatlands in wet condition (paludiculture).

Minimum Requirements

  • Advanced university degree  (for Consultants) / University degree (only for PSA) related to remote sensing, earth observation, climate change, natural resource management (e.g. hydrology), environmental policy and sciences, forestry, land use planning or similar,
  • For all work streams: At least 2 years of relevant working experience, in particular on climate change and/or hydrology,
  • For the monitoring work stream: At least 2 years of relevant experience in land-use related remote sensing and/or data analysis,
  • Working knowledge of English, French and/or Spanish and limited knowledge of French or Spanish or Arabic, Chinese, Russian for COF.REG.
  • Working knowledge of English, French and/or Spanish for PSA.SBS.

Technical/Functional Skills

Please note that while these skills are desirable, the candidate does not need to cover all the preferred qualifications mentioned below:

  • Extent and relevance of experience in knowledge, education and work experience on climate change and peatlands / mangroves and land use;
  • Monitoring: Extent and relevance of experience in R, Python, and JavaScript, especially as applied to land surface monitoring. Use of Google’s Earth Engine is an asset;
  • Work experience together with national and/or subnational institutions;
  • Working knowledge of one or more of the local languages for the duty station country is an advantage (nb. for PSA contracts one language is acceptable,  including spoken and written English / Bahasa / French / Spanish;
  • Skills or experience in: greenhouse gas emission estimates / reporting / verification; land use planning; hydrology; land and water management; mapping; training; policies; economics; value chain development and other related fields;
  • Statistical studies or experience with data analysis and quality control;
  • Work experience in more than one location or area of work;
  • Familiarity with the duty station (country to be mentioned in the application) and its peatlands and/or mangroves;
  • Experience of working together with a team, and independence to work under minimum guidance following the agreed work plan;
  • Preferred: Experience in compiling training materials, audio-visual materials and documents; and
  • Proficiency with Microsoft package, in particular Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneDrive and other co-working platforms.

Two more peaty postdocs

There are two postdoctoral positions now available at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore, both working on the restoration dynamics of tropical peatlands in Indonesia.

One is focused on plant ecology, working with Dr. Janice Lee and Prof. David Wardle, with more info here; and the other is focused on societal aspects, working with Dr. Lee, for which you can read more here.

Great and important projects; excellent PIs; and it’s all about peat.  Good luck applicants!  (And do spread the word to anyone else whom might be interested.)

Into the Swamp: Stories from the Peatlands of Borneo

Coming to Leicester (UK) from the 2-7th of April 2019, Newarke Houses Museum.

SaraThorntonEvent

Sara Thornton wades through the Sebangau peat-swamp forest in Indonesian Borneo. Photo by Jessica Thornton, 2015.

Join Dr Sara Thornton, Dr Sarah Cook and researchers from the University of Leicester and Borneo Nature Foundation on a journey into the amazing tropical peatlands of Borneo. Learn about the ecology of these forests and the threats that these vital habitats are facing through the stories and photographs of field researchers. The exhibition will accompany these photographs from the field with materials that explain the science and ecology of tropical peatlands, why they are relevant to even us in Leicester, and what you can do to help conservation efforts. See what a day in the life of a tropical peatland researcher looks like and have the chance to ask them any questions you can think of!

With support from Professor Susan Page (University of Leicester) and made possible by the British Ecological Society.

We are also collecting donations for the Borneo Nature Foundation; a not-for-profit conservation and research organisation who works to protect some of the most important areas of tropical rainforest, and to safeguard the wildlife, environment and indigenous culture on Borneo. See more information here: http://www.borneonaturefoundation.org/en/

Keep up to date with the event by liking our Facebook page: https://web.facebook.com/IntotheSwamp/

Peatland carbon stocks survey needs EXPERTS!

Calling all peatland experts….

Julie Loisel or Angela Gallego-Sala, the PAGES C-PEAT Steering Committee, have prepared a survey to assess the past, present, and future of peatland carbon stocks and fluxes. All peatland experts are invited to participate. 

They are using an expert assessment approach to identify and quantify the main drivers of change in peatland carbon cycling (temperature, moisture balance, sea level, nitrogen deposition, fire, permafrost, land use, atmospheric pollution). Tropical and high-latitude regions are treated independently.

Everyone who completes the survey will be offered co-authorship on a community paper highlighting the main findings from this survey. They anticipate submitting the manuscript to Nature Geosciences in 2019.

To participate:

1- download this C-PEAT_ExpertAssessmentSurvey

2- read the instructions and fill out the 3 survey questions (it’s okay if the Table format changes as you fill them out)

3- save your file as a PDF

4- follow the link below to submit your final PDF and answer the census questions

5- complete the survey by December 05 2018.

https://tamu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_eaMla5D31ZE0TxX

 

Do not hesitate to contact Julie Loisel (julieloisel at tamu . edu) or Angela Gallego-Sala (A.Gallego-Sala at exeter . ac . uk) if you have questions or comments.

On behalf of the C-PEAT steering committee, they thank you for your participation.

 

Peat’s worst enemy is….?

**Important, mega-quick survey alert**

Roxane Anderson (U. Highlands & Islands) and Richard Payne (U. York) are working on a project on Global Peatland threats. As part of the project, they are looking to gather responses from the peatland community around the world on what they consider to be the greatest threats to peatlands. They have designed a very short survey for that purpose and would like to distribute it as widely as possible.

The link for the survey is here: https://goo.gl/forms/4UpfwEJuLNejS4Hy1.

Your (anonymous) answers will contribute to a scientific paper that will be circulated widely when published (and we’ll try to get the authors to post a summary blog about it here!).

Please feel free to send the link onwards to your own networks.

Thank you for contributing to this important work.

 

Tropical peat swamps: Restoration of endangered carbon reservoirs

Last week, a very interesting paper was published that uses palaeoecological techniques to provide insights into the recovery dynamics of tropical peat swamp forests in Indonesia, with the aim of informing their contemporary management. The official Press Release for the publication is re-posted below (from the Journal of Ecology blog) with the kind permission of the first author, Kartika Anggi Hapsari

University of Göttingen press release

According to current knowledge, the land biosphere absorbs 30% of the CO2 produced by humans and thus contributes significantly to reducing global warming.

Tropical peat swamp forests are among the most important terrestrial carbon reservoirs, but they are increasingly being cleared. Data on their regenerative capacity have so far been completely lacking but are indispensable for conservation and restoration projects.

A research team of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) 990 of the University of Göttingen has now determined for the first time by means of palaeoecological investigations how long it takes for a tropical peat forest to recover after a disturbance. The Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT) in Bremen was also involved in the study, which was published this week in Journal of Ecology.

Peat swamp Forest

A peat swamp forest in Sumatra which has been converted into a palm oil plantation (Tim Rixen, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research)

A peat swamp forest in Sumatra which has been converted into a palm oil plantation (Tim Rixen, Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research)

Using one such drill core, which contains deposits from the past 13,000 years, the researchers investigated traces of charcoal as an indication of human habitation, the composition of pollen and spores as well as the carbon content in various soil layers, which they dated with the radiocarbon method.

The drill core originated from a swamp area on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, where the Malayu Empire reigned from the 9th to the 14th century. The nearby Buddhist temple complex Muara Jambi from this period is one of the largest in Southeast Asia and indicates a flourishing high culture.

As the peat samples and historical sources showed, the population then used the swamp forests for the extraction of firewood and building materials and also collected food there. In the 14th century Javanese immigrants displaced the Malayu from the region; the swamp forest was left to itself again.

“It was a rather low-impact use that largely preserved the hydrologic soil conditions,” said biologist Kartika Anggi Hapsari, first author of the study. “Yet we found that it took 60 years before similar amounts of carbon were sequestered in the peat deposits and even 170 years before the original vegetation as found in a virgin peat forest was restored.“

The Indonesian government has recognised the enormous importance of peat forests, not only as CO2 sinks but also as biological treasure troves with a high biodiversity and a number of endangered species, such as the orangutan. Restoration projects in Indonesia, however, are only designed for 60 or for a maximum of 95 years. According to the findings of the study, this period is far too short to restore the full ecosystem performance of an intact peat swamp forest.

“Given today’s practice of extensive deforestation and intensive use as plantations, it is likely that the regeneration will take much longer,” said Tim Jennerjahn of the ZMT, one of the authors of the study. “The question is also how long these peatlands will continue to exist. Due to the drainage and the decomposition of the organic peat soil, CO2 is released, leading to soil subsidence. The peatlands, most of which are located near the coast, could fall victim to rising sea levels.”

The research was conducted within the Collaborative Research Centre 990 “Ecological and Socioeconomic Functions of Tropical Lowland Rainforest Transformation Systems (Sumatra, Indonesia) – EfforTS”, which is funded by the German Research Organization (DFG).


Read the full article (freely available for a limited time): 
Hapsari KA, Biagioni S, Jennerjahn TC, et al. Resilience of a peatland in Central Sumatra, Indonesia to past anthropogenic disturbance: improving conservation and restoration designs using palaeoecology. J Ecol2018DOI: 10.1111/1365-2745.13000

Media contact:
Kartika Anggi Hapsari, University of Göttingen, Email: kartika.hapsari@biologie.uni-goettingen.de, Tel: +49 (0)551 39 7873