Mon 10 May 2010: 3pm @ LT20 – William Laurance on “Long-term changes and threats in the world’s tropical protected areas”

“Islands of Survival: Long-term changes and threats in the world’s tropical protected areas”

By William F. Laurance
School of Marine & Tropical Biology,
James Cook University, Cairns, Australia

Mon 10 May 2010: 3pm-4pm
Lecture Theatre 20
(see map)
Block S3/S4, Level 1
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Host: Professor Navjot Sodhi.

About the talk – Many of the world’s leading tropical 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 common drivers of change?

Using data from >240 expert interviews, I will assess long-term shifts in biodiversity and ecosystem processes and identify their potential drivers in 60 key protected areas across the American, Asia-Pacific and African tropics. These findings have potentially vital implications for the future of tropical biodiversity.

About the speaker – William Laurance is Distinguished Research Professor in the School of Marine & Tropical Biology at James Cook University. Laurance received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1989 and then held research positions with the CSIRO and Wet Tropics Management Authority in north Queensland, before joining the Smithsonian Institution where he was , based in Brazil and Panama. After 14 years there, he joined JCU He is also a research associate at Harvard University.

Professor Laurance’s research focuses on the impacts of intensive land-uses, such as habitat fragmentation, logging, and wildfires, on tropical forests and species. He is further interested in climatic change and conservation policy. He works in the Amazon, Africa, Southeast Asia, and tropical Australia, and has published five books and over 300 scientific and popular articles. A leading voice for conservation, Dr Laurance believes that 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, the world’s largest scientific organization devoted to the study and preservation of tropical ecosystems. He has received many scientific honors including the prestigious BBVA Frontiers in Ecology and Conservation Biology Award, regarded by many as the ‘Nobel Prize’ for environmental conservation.


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