Are rainforests as natural as they appear? How best to replant large forest areas destroyed by fire? A new consultancy service providing the data needed to answer these and other questions has been established at the University of Oxford.
BioGeoSciences for Conservation (BGSC) has been set up to help managers having to make those decisions by providing information about how environments have evolved over long timescales. The consultancy service is backed by a specialist laboratory which uses fossil records such as pollen and charcoal to reconstruct how forests, savannas and other areas developed in response to changes in climate, disturbances by fire and people, and changes in soil fertility and water availability over hundreds to thousands of years.
Dr Kathy Willis, one of three Principals of BGSC, also heads the Oxford Long-term Ecology Laboratory. She said: ‘What is unique about this service is the way in which it links together many techniques to provide information that is not normally accessible to those involved in environmental management who tend to base their decisions simply on knowledge of current ecological patterns. We take a long-term perspective, sometimes over thousands of years, to help manage biodiversity today.
Barbara Hott | alfa
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