Tuesday 25 Feb 2014Quantifying Carbon Storage in Cities

Zoe Davies - University of Kent

Harrison room 170 14:00-15:00

Despite urbanisation being a major driver of land-use change globally, there have been relatively few attempts to comprehensively quantify and map ecosystem service provision at city-wide scales, in order to facilitate urban management and/or policy decision-making. This is surprising given that one particular service, biological carbon storage in soils and vegetation, has become an increasingly significant and high-profile feature of climate change mitigation efforts. Indeed, to fulfil international reporting obligations, many countries must produce national inventories of greenhouse gas emissions by sources and removal by sinks, including accounting for biological carbon losses and sequestration arising from different land-uses, land-use change and forestry. Yet, to date, the general assumption has been that carbon stores in towns and cities are negligible, even within highly urbanised regions like northwest Europe. Recent research has begun to challenge this perception and, although obviously small compared with carbon emissions per unit area, it is evident that the size and value of urban biological carbon reservoirs should not be underestimated. With a number of teams in North America and Europe starting to generate an exciting body of literature in this field, now is a pertinent time to review progress made thus far, and compare findings from continents with very different patterns and histories of urbanisation. A suite of associated and currently unresolved issues still require further investigation, such as estimating carbon stored within capped soils and managing urban areas to maximise carbon pools. This is an important focus for future research given that governments are currently setting greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets and, therefore, need reliable data to help establish and underpin realistic trajectories for such decreases, along with acceptable and robust policies for meeting these goals.

About the speaker:
Dr. Zoe Davies is a Senior Lecturer in Biodiversity Conservation and Academic Head for Conservation Biology at the Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent, UK. She is an applied ecologist who uses empirical data to address questions of importance to environmental management and policy. Her research interests relating to urbanisation are diverse, but include examining how:
patterns of urbanisation and greenspace infrastructure respond to policy recommendations;
to manage urban areas in order to maintain/enhance biodiversity and ecosystem service provision;
interactions with wildlife and the natural environment can benefit human health and wellbeing.
Some of her most recent work focuses on quantifying, mapping and managing biological carbon stores (within soil and vegetation) in cities. Dr. Davies received a BSc(Hons) from Royal Holloway, University of London, and was awarded her PhD from the University of Leeds in 2004.

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