Professor Susan Page
Head of Department and Professor of Physical Geography
- Tel: 0116 252 3318
- Email: email@example.com
- Fax: 0116 252 3854
- Office: Bennett Building F47
- Personal Homepage
I am an ecologist and a biologist by training with research interests in wetland ecology and functioning and wildlife conservation. My current research activities primarily concentrate on the tropical peatlands of Southeast Asia, but I am also supervising research projects on peatlands in South America, Central Africa, as well as on lowland peatlands in the UK, rural biodiversity, wildlife conservation, ecosystem services and the sustainable management of natural resources.Many people still find it hard to believe that there are extensive peatlands in the tropical zone: after all, peat bogs are usually associated with the cool, wet, midge-infested regions of the north! There are, however, approximately 450 km2 of peatlands in the tropics, mainly located in the Southeast Asian countries of Indonesia and Malaysia, but also in South and Central America and Africa. In a natural condition, the peatlands in Southeast Asia support peat swamp forest, which provides a habitat for a number of rare and endangered species. Underground, the thick peat layers, accumulated over thousands of years and often exceeding a thickness of 10 m, store enormous amounts of carbon. Globally, these peatlands store ~90 billion tonnes of carbon and also perform other important environmental and landscape functions (e.g. flood mitigation, wildlife habitat maintenance and livelihood support). In 1998 I became a partner in a four-year collaborative research programme that investigated the ecology and natural resource functions of these systems, funded by the European Union (EU). Fieldwork was based in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia and elsewhere within the Southeast Asian region, and involved working with Indonesian and Malaysian universities and research institutes. This work focused primarily on forest biodiversity and the role of tropical peatlands in the global carbon cycle, whilst additional research, funded by the UK Government's Darwin Initiative, investigated the impact of forest fires and illegal logging on peatland biodiversity and sustainability. This included studies of the Bornean orang-utan, an endangered primate that is now largely restricted to peat swamp forest, as well as investigation of the impacts of the 1997/1998 forest fires on emissions of atmospheric carbon.
In 2002 a further EU funded project commenced with a focus on sustainable management strategies for tropical peatlands (STRAPEAT project). As an outcome, I was involved in the production of guidelines for the wise use of tropical peatlands (available on-line through the RESTORPEAT web pages, see link below) and, through a linked programme (PeatWise), the development of higher education teaching materials on sustainable land use in the humid tropics. At the end of 2004, I commenced work on a further EU-funded research programme (RESTORPEAT) investigating ecological restoration of degraded tropical peatland systems. This is particularly relevant to the peatlands of Kalimantan, which have been severely impacted by land development projects, drainage, fire and illegal logging. Working together with Dr Kevin Tansey and Agata Hoscilo, we investigated the role of fire in the land use dynamics and restoration of tropical peatlands, whilst with Jenny Pickerill and Laura Graham we explored the ecological and social barriers to regeneration of peat swamp forest. Commencing in 2006, aspects of this work were integrated into the EU project AIR-CO on water resource management in SE Asia. Working with two Indonesian universities and the lead partner, University of Wageningen, we developed research training and teaching materials to better understand human impacts on river and wetland management. This included commissioning a number of educational films. As an extension of this catchment approach, I began a collaborative project with Sam Moore (NERC-funded PhD student) and Dr Vincent Gauci of the Open University and Prof. Chris Evans (CEH, Bangor) on dissolved organic carbon (DOC) losses from natural and degraded tropical peatland catchments in Indonesia. This was subsequently extended through funding by a NERC ‘Urgency’ grant to investigate DOC losses following the extensive 2009 peatland fires in Central Kalimantan and is now the subject of a further co-supervision of a PhD student at the Open University, Matthew Kent (with Dr Vince Gauci and Prof Chris Evans). Matt is investigating the fate of fluvial DOC, specifically CO2 and CH4 evasion from the waterways draining intact and degraded peatlands.
Other related strands to my tropical peatland research have included the application of ALOS-PALSAR radar to monitor forest degradation in peat swamp forests which was tackled by Matthew Waldram, as part of the NERC-funded NCEO carbon cycle theme; the effects of fire on peat biogeochemistry, which Leanne Milner investigated with the support of a university scholarship and the EU-funded REDD-ALERT project led by the James Hutton Institute; spatial modelling of peat swamp forest by Zamzam Hassan, focusing on her home country of Brunei; and exploration of the ecological and cultural services provided by peat swamp forest by Sara Thornton. I am also a partner in a NERC-funded project led by Prof. Dan Charman (University of Exeter) exploring millennial scale peatland carbon dynamics, which is examining peat cores from across the globe, including tropical sites in Southeast Asia, and a further project led by Dr Vince Gauci (Open University) investigating methane emissions from wetlands forests. My interests in tropical peatlands in South America and Central Africa have been enhanced by collaborations with Outi Lahteenoja (formerly at University of Turku in Finland) and Greta Dargie (PhD student working with Dr Simon Lewis at University of Leeds). Outi carried out her PhD on the peatlands of the Peruvian Amazon, whilst Greta is exploring wetlands in the Congo Basin. In our own department, Wayne Murphy is investigating wetlands in the Peruvian Amazon as a regional source of methane and nitrous oxide; this is part-funded by a NERC grant, led by Dr Yit Arn Teh (University of Aberdeen), Dr Juan Carlos Berrio and myself.
My research on tropical peatlands has emphasized how important it is to convert scientific knowledge into policy and practice. This transfer of expertise and experience was facilitated by Dr Chris Banks and myself under the EU-funded CARBOPEAT project. Over a two year period, the CARBOPEAT partners from Europe and Southeast Asia, worked together to identify key issues and critical gaps in our understanding of tropical peatland carbon dynamics, analyse implications for policy, and formulate guidelines for optimizing the tropical peat carbon store that could be understood readily by policy makers and decision takers. This led on to involvement in consultancy work, including a report for ICCT on the scale of greenhouse gas emissions from oil palm plantations on tropical peatlands. I was also a Lead Author for IPCC for the recently published Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories: Wetlands.
Closer to home, peatland research is focused on the fenlands of Eastern England, where schemes to re-wet former fenland now being used for agriculture may result in significant reductions in atmospheric carbon emissions. This work was started by former PhD student Ross Morrison and is being continued by Pan Gong and Alex Cumming, working with Dr Joerg Kaduk and Prof Heiko Balzter. The focus is on comparing the carbon balance of natural fenland versus rewetting pastures and agricultural land using eddy covariance techniques. This work has recently spun up into a DEFRA funded project led by Prof Chris Evans (CEH) evaluating the greenhouse gas and carbon balance of lowland peatlands across a number of sites in England and Wales, the results of which will ultimately inform government policies on peat land use options.
Current and recent work on biodiversity conservation outside peatland ecosystems has focused on various aspects of wildlife and natural resource use in Kenya, wildlife conservation and ecotourism in Ghana, and vegetation diversity and ethnobotany in the Pakistani Himalayas.
- Valentin Louis – ‘Remote sensing of forest and plantation dynamics’ (with Prof H Balzter, CLCR & Dr D Fox, Geospatial Insight)
- Alex Cumming – ‘The greenhouse gas balance of fenland used for agriculture’ (with Prof H Balzter, CLCR & Dr J Kaduk)
- Akihito Kono – ‘Effect of sectoral policies and institutional coordination on forests and sustainable forest management in the context of REDD+’ (with Dr C Upton)
- Sara Thornton – ‘Ecosystem and cultural values of forest in Central Kalimantan’ (with Dr C Upton)
- Matthew Kent (based at the Open University) – ‘DOC dynamics of tropical peatlands’ (with Dr V Gauci, Open Univ. & Prof C Evans, CEH)
- Matthew Waldram – ‘Tropical deforestation and the carbon cycle’ (with Dr Kevin Tansey)
- Leanne Milner – ‘Effects of fire on the biogeochemistry of tropical peatland’ (with Dr Arnoud Boom)
- Zamzam Hassan – ‘Species and microclimate spatial modelling in peat swamp forest, Brunei’ (with Dr Claire Jarvis)
- Gong Pan – ‘The greenhouse gas balance of a restoring fenland’ (with Prof H Balzter & Dr J Kaduk)
- Wayne Murphy – ‘Role of Amazonian peatlands in carbon storage and greenhouse gas emissions’ (with Dr A Boom & Dr J-C Berrio)
- Greta Dargie (based at University of Leeds) 'Tropical peatlands and carbon storage in the Congo Basin' (with Dr Simon Lewis, Univ of Leeds)
- Natalia Gonzalez Michaels - 'Assessment of land cover changes produced by the oil palm plantations in the eastern Columbian savannahs' (with Dr Kevin Tansey)
- Ross Morrison – ‘The carbon balance of a restoring fenland’ (with Prof H Balzter, CLCR & Dr J Kaduk)
- Laura Graham - 'Restoration from Within - Developing Restoration Action Plans Through Ecological and Community Knowledge in Kalimantan, Indonesia' (with Dr Jenny Pickerill).
- Shujal Khan – ‘Phytosociological and ethnobotanical studies in the Naran Valley, Pakistan’ (with Dr David Harper, Dept. Biological Sciences)
- Agata Hoscilo - 'The role of fire in the land use dynamics and restoration of tropical peatlands: developing techniques to assess post-fire vegetation recovery, fire risk and the emission of greenhouse gases' (with Dr Kevin Tansey).
- Bashar Dahdal - 'The use of interferometric spaceborne radar and GIS to measure ground subsidence from peat soils in Indonesia' (with Dr Kevin Tansey and Prof. Heiko Balzter).
- Gabriel Eshun - 'Community participation in natural resource management and ecotourism development in Ghana' (with Dr Clare Madge).
- Kate Moore - 'Indigenous spatial literacy to inform participatory GIS in wildlife conservation' (with Dr Clare Madge).
- Sam Moore (based at the Open University) – ‘Dissolved organic carbon losses from natural and degraded tropical peatlands’ (with Dr Vincent Gauci, Open University and Dr Chris Evans, CEH)
- Outi Lähteenoja – Amazonian peatlands (visiting PhD student from the University of Turku, Finland)
- Dr Tetsuya Shimamura – JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow – ‘Biodiversity and carbon dynamics in tropical peat swamp forest’.
Research Areas for PhD Supervision
Ecology of tropical peatlands in Southeast Asia (biodiversity, role in Quaternary carbon cycle, impacts of fire and land-use change).
Enquiries: If you are interested in studying for a PhD in one of these research areas, please make informal enquiries via geogPhD@le.ac.uk
Most Recent Publications
Khan, S.M., Page, S.E., Ahmad, H. and Harper, D.M. (2013) Ethno-ecological importance of plant biodiversity im mountain ecosystems with special emphasis on indicator species; a case study of the Naran Valley in northern Pakistan. Ecological Indicators. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.09.012
Khan, S.M., Page, S.E., Ahmad, H. & Harper, D.M. (2013) Ecosystem services, sustainable utilisation and conservation of plant biodiversity in montane ecosystems with particular reference to the Western Himalayas. Annals of Botany, doi.10.1093/aob/mct125 (23 pp).
Graham, L.L.B., Turjaman, M. & Page, S.E. Shorea balangeran and Dyera polyphylla as tropical peat swamp forest restoration transplant species: effects of mycorrhizae and level of disturbance. Wetlands Ecology and Management. DOI: 10.1007/s11273-013-9302-x
Khan, S.M., Page, S.E., Ahmad, H., Shaheen, H., Ullah, Z., Ahmad, M. and Harper, D. (2013) Medicinal flora and ethnoecological knowledge in the Naran Valley, Western Himalaya, Pakistan. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 9:4 doi:10.1186/1746-4269-9-4.
Moore, S., Evans, C.D., Page, S.E., Garnett, M.H., Jones, T.G., Freeman, C., Limin, S.H. and Gauci, V. (2013) Fluvial organic carbon fluxes reveal deep instability of deforested tropical peatlands. Nature, 493, 660-663.
Hoscilo, A., Tansey, K.J. & Page, S.E. (2013) Post-fire vegetation response as a proxy to quantify the magnitude of burn severity in tropical peatland. International Journal of Remote Sensing, 34, 412-433.