Toucans

How do we halt species loss in the Amazon? Should humans be locked out of our rainforests to protect biodiversity? Our tropical ecologists take to Reddit to answer your questions.

The planet is going through an unprecedented rate of species loss. Last year a United Nations report concluded as many as 1 million species are at risk of going extinct in the coming decades at a rate 1000 times higher because of human action.

The tropics are at the frontline of this crisis. They are home to 75 percent of all species and 40 percent of the human population, many of whom live in poverty and rely on working the land to make a living. We urgently need to find ways to combine biodiversity conservation with human welfare.

As tropical ecologists, Dr Cristina Banks-Leite, and Jenna Lawson work with authorities such as the Brazilian government to advise on policy-change to avoid biodiversity extinction. To do this they research what exactly is driving species to go extinct, and what the impact their disappearance has on the environments they leave behind. In Brazil, Cristina’s work led to the Brazilian government’s adoption of a 30 per cent forest cover threshold across the country’s Atlantic Forest region. In Costa Rica, Jenna has been part of a team setting up over 400 audio devices to record the sounds of the rainforest. The team use machine learning to pick out and track the calls of the forest’s endangered spider monkeys as well as getting a wider picture of local biodiversity loss.

At this Reddit Ask me anything session Cristina and Jenna will discuss the drivers of deforestation and how the resulting biodiversity loss plays out on the ground. They will also explore the limitations of reforestation solutions (why you can’t ‘make up’ for cutting down rainforest by planting trees elsewhere), and propose a more sustainable way forward which both preserves species and benefits local economies.

Imperial Lates Online 

This event is part of Imperial Lates Online: Wildlife. Join us on 26-30 April to explore the wonders of the animal kingdom with scientists and conservationists working to understand and protect wildlife in the UK and around the world.

Register for Imperial Lates Online: Wildlife to receive a full programme and to get links to all our live events over the week.

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