School of GeoSciences Research

Forests, landscapes and agriculture

We have pioneered research in process-based modelling, data assimilation and remote sensing of forests. Our work has underpinned the development and implementation of national and international policies to reduce carbon emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.

Jungle valley in Thailand surrounded by drifts of morning fog

Did you know?

We have helped protect and restore up to 300 million hectares of tropical forests by improving satellite monitoring and improved estimates of biomass of tropical trees.

We introduced the first global mapping of C residence times for vegetation pools.

We determined climate controls on tundra biomes, continentally diverse fire-climate-savannah relationships and quantified the surprising floristic turnover of dry forests.

We have pioneered the use of radar remote sensing techniques to determine above-ground biomass and biomass change.  

The role of forest biomass

Forest biomass is a major pool of carbon (C) in the Earth system.

It is a strong indicator of local biodiversity. It also provides timber, fuel and other products that support society and its well-being.

Our globally leading research in process-based modelling, data assimilation and remote sensing of forests has also made it possible to map and interpret changes in forest carbon and provide this information to support policy development and decision making from local to global scales. 

Pioneering process-based modelling, data assimilation and remote sensing

Our researchers have combined biomass data and models to develop new tools to accurately monitor savannas and dry forests, and quantify carbon stock changes and emissions.  

To make the best of the new data flowing from the remote sensing methods developed at the University, we have also pioneered data assimilation.  

With data assimilation, we are able to provide state-of-the-art estimates of ecosystem dynamics that combine the new data sources with carbon cycle modelling. This advance allowed us to show, for the first time, how repeated biomass data can be used to calibrate and improve terrestrial C models.

Helping the world reduce carbon emissions

We have built international partnerships to support national agencies reporting and forecasting greenhouse gas budgets required by the UN Paris Climate Agreement.   

In addition, we support NGOs to influence land-use policy in multiple countries and the development of forest policy and subsequent implementation to meet international reporting requirements for the United Nations. 

Through product development, we are also enhancing the growth of UK environmental businesses and across the globe.  For example, our work on biomass mapping coupled to advanced diagnostic carbon cycle modelling has supported UK industry to develop new spatial products and services for forest sustainability.  


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