"Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical protected areas" by Prof William F Laurance

Past Event

10 December 2012, 5:15pm - 6:45pm

Herbertson Room, OUCE
Herbertson Room, OUCE, South Parks Road, Oxford, OX1 3QY

This seminar is hosted by the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests, an Oxford Martin School Centre

Summary: Many of the world’s tropical forest protected areas are now fragments or man-made islands surrounded by drastically modified landscapes. Even some of the historically most-remote sites suffer from hunting and other forms of human encroachment. Will these protected areas function as arks to help conserve tropical biodiversity, or are the arks sinking? Moreover, does each protected area face a unique suite of threats, or do they suffer from similar drivers of change?

Using data from 262 expert interviews, Prof Laurance assesses long-term shifts in biodiversity and ecosystem processes and identifies their potential drivers within 60 key protected areas stratified across the American, Asia-Pacific, and African tropics. Some reserves are suffering taxonomically and functionally widespread changes in their biodiversity, whereas others are faring better. He identifies key differences between failing and successful reserves and highlight strategies for avoiding a collapse of their rich biodiversity.

Speaker: Professor William F Laurance, Distinguished Research Professor & Australian Laureate, Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation, Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science (TESS) and School of Marine & Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Biography: William Laurance is a Distinguished Research Professor and Australian Laureate at James Cook University in Cairns. He also holds the Prince Bernhard Chair in International Nature Conservation at Utrecht University, Netherlands.

Professor Laurance joined JCU in 2009 after having spent 14 years as a senior scientist with the Smithsonian Institution, based in Brazil and Panama. He is also a research associate at Harvard University and the Smithsonian.

Laurance’s research focuses on the impacts of intensive land-uses, such as habitat fragmentation, logging, and wildfires, on tropical forests and species, as well as climate change and conservation policy. His work spans the tropical world, from the Amazon and Africa to the Asia-Pacific and tropical Australia. He has published eight books and nearly 400 scientific and popular articles to date.

Laurance received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989 and then held research positions with the CSIRO Tropical Forest Research Centre and Wet Tropics Management Authority in north Queensland, before joining the Smithsonian Institution.

A leading voice for conservation, Professor Laurance believes scientists must actively engage policy makers and the general public, as well as other scientists. He is a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and former president of the Association for Tropical Biology and Conservation. He has received many professional honors including the BBVA Frontiers in Ecology and Conservation Biology Award, a Distinguished Service Award from the Society for Conservation Biology, and the Heineken Environment Prize.

This seminar will be followed by drinks