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Major new partnership for The Nature Conservancy and the Oxford Martin School: Three-year project to focus on building resilience to climate change

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News Release
22 June 2016

The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, have joined forces for a major new scientific partnership to understand better how extreme weather events and human actions will both influence, and be influenced by, our changing climate. 

This unusual collaboration will bring together one of the world’s largest and most respected conservation organisations with the cutting-edge interdisciplinary research of the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford. 

The ‘Oxford Martin TNC Climate Partnership’ will address the need to improve our understanding of the effects of climate change on ecosystems and also the impact of human response to those changes. The initial focus is on research in South America where work is designed to inform land management decisions, such as reforestation efforts.

In announcing the partnership, Mark Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy, said: “Our new partnership with the Oxford Martin School combines The Nature Conservancy’s expertise from our on-the-ground conservation work on five continents with the academic strengths of the Oxford Martin School, a globally renowned leader in climate change research. We hope this will be the first step in a long and productive collaboration. Thank you to Roy and Diana Vagelos, whose generosity made this partnership possible.”

Professor Ian Goldin, Director of the Oxford Martin School, said: “The combined team from the Oxford Martin School and The Nature Conservancy has the potential to make major inroads in deepening our understanding of how climate change and our efforts to mitigate it will also have an impact on important areas of biodiversity. I am confident that our exciting research collaboration will contribute to better understanding of climate change and the long-term conservation of vital ecosystems. By joining forces we have greatly improved our ability to tackle a vital global issue.”

The first three years of the partnership will focus on the following areas:

Extreme weather events 

This aspect of the Climate Partnership will extend the University of Oxford’s existing weather@home volunteer computing project to the Amazon region and analyse the impact of recent extreme weather events on the Amazonian biosphere. This work aims to provide a better understanding of the risk of extreme weather events, and will be used to assess extreme events while they are still unfolding, and how influential climate change was in causing the event. 

Complex tropical biospheres

A second feature of the Climate Partnership will be to develop and apply a complex model to the Amazon region in order to understand the impacts of extreme weather events on biodiversity and ecosystem services, such as clean air and water, as well as reforestation efforts. Building on models already developed by the Oxford Centre for Tropical Forests, the team will seek to develop improved estimates of how carbon stocks and biodiversity will respond to climate change, and how tree diversity might ameliorate some aspects of extreme weather. 

Resilient land-use planning in Brazil

The third focus of the Climate Partnership is to explore robust strategies for achieving Brazil’s reforestation targets. The team will use new and existing models to integrate conservation priorities with reforestation costs, to explore strategies to assist the Brazilian government’s reforestation ambitions. By modelling the impact that incentives are likely to have in relation to land prices, the team will be able to advise the Brazilian government on how best to plan their reforestation programme.

Leading the research at the Oxford Martin School are: Myles Allen, Professor of Geosystem Science; Yadvinder Malhi, Professor of Ecosystem Science; and E.J. Milner-Gulland, Tasso Leventis Professor of Biodiversity.


About the Oxford Martin School

The Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford is a world-leading centre of pioneering research that addresses global challenges.

The School invests in research that cuts across disciplines to tackle a wide range of issues including climate change, disease, cyber threats, and inequality. The School supports novel, high risk and multidisciplinary projects that may not fit within conventional funding channels, but which could dramatically improve the wellbeing of this and future generations. 
Twitter: @OxMartinSchool

About The Nature Conservancy

The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to conserve the lands and waters on which all life depends. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the web at To learn about the Conservancy’s global initiatives, visit To keep up with current Conservancy news, follow @nature_press on Twitter